Martel Instruments has been selected to exhibit in the Innovation Showcase at this year's VentureFest North East. Sales manager, Matthew Walker, discusses the best and worst parts of being innovative.
Describe your business in no more than 60 words
Martel design and manufacturer bespoke thermal printing solutions. We supply markets as diverse as medical, retail and automotive, exporting all over the globe. We have over 30 year’s experience in the industry. More recently we enhanced our offering by developing IOT enabled product platform called VIDA 4.0.
What prompted you to enter the innovation showcase?
With the launch of VIDA 4.0 this year, and having had innovation help from local company Octo design, we decided this was the time to enter.
Describe the innovation that you’ve entered the showcase with.
Martel have recently developed a new IOT enabled product platform, VIDA 4.0. This allows us to offer customers bespoke products that can connect, capture & communicate their data in a way that meets their exact requirements. There is always an element of risk with any product development, VIDA 4.0 takes this away from our customers, saving them time and money.
How would you describe that innovation to your grandparents?
At the moment Martel’s customers use the Martel thermal printer to do one thing, print the information their product creates. VIDA 4.0 lets the customers not only print their data but also, email, manipulate and electronically store this data so they can manage the information in whatever way is most effective for them.
What are the best and worst parts of trying to be innovative in your business?
Best – The best part of innovating in our business is the ideas. On a weekly basis the commercial and design department get together to come up with any ideas they may have. It’s a great exercise and has increased the teams’ performance.
Worst – The worst part of trying to innovate in Martel is time and cost. We have so many ideas, many new products we would love to manufacture, but the cost of manufacturing these products as well as the time involved can be a risk for us.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
Resources. Like many SME’s, trying to find the time to invent new products, as well as improve the ones we have and customise new ones for customers can be difficult. We have created an innovation room at our HQ that is used solely for the purpose of new product development. This allows the staff to find time for all aspects of our work.
Where do you get support and advice to help you run your business?
We have received a lot of support from Elizabeth Shaw and her team at the North East Bic, who helped us fund VIDA 4.0. We are also members of Design Network North, and they helped us with our recent showcase day. For marketing support we receive it from the team at Explain Marketing who run our community, and also from Alex at Marketing Wand.
What does being chosen for the innovation showcase mean to you?
Martel have exhibited all over the world at different types of exhibitions, ranging from medical to the takeaway industry, however this is the first time in nearly 35 years of business that we are exhibiting in the North East where we are based. It's a great honor to be chosen, as everything we manufacture and design everything in North East and this is something which we are extremely proud of.
Where do you see your company in five years’ time?
We would really like to be at the fore front of product innovation in the IOT and big data world, whilst still promoting our thermal printer range and customisation service. VIDA 4.0 is a future proof product and has the ability to evolve to meet all customer specific requirements and the demands of the many markets we operate in
We are a global company and would love to expand operation to perhaps include new offices in different territories.
What would you tell businesses who are hoping to be more innovative?
Simply just go for it! The hard work pays off in the end and if you don't do it, you will constantly be wondering what if? You won’t regret it! Your competitor could be out there innovating themselves and taking away YOUR potential business.
Come and see the region's latest innovations for yourself, and get a unique chance to talk to the people behind the big ideas by registering for VentureFest North East here.