27 May 2020 | 03.15 pm
Cross-border Face Visor Venture Takes Off
InterTradeIreland-led scheme provides €300k funding
27 May 2020 | 03.15 pm
The group of 18 companies set up a not-for-profit enterprise called Hero Shield to manage the face visor manufacturing. The response from the health sector north and south of the border has been strong, with orders recently placed for 70,000 visors per week.
The Co-Innovate initiative, led by InterTradeIreland and supported by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme (managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB)), provided the €300,000 cash injection to help kickstart the Hero Shield venture, which was created in mid-March.
The partners, none of whom had ever produced face shields before, include Northern Ireland companies Shnuggle Ltd, Crossen Engineering, Denroy Plastics, Minprint and Ad-Vance Engineering, with support from Queen’s University of Belfast. The Irish cohort of the partnership includes Xtru Pak in Cavan and Glen Dimplex in Dublin.
“We will sell some product at a small profit to private companies, which will raise funds to make even more Hero Shields, allowing us to continue operating as a not-for-profit company,” said Adam Murphy, CEO of Shnuggle.
Sebastien Lenoir, technical services director at Glen Dimplex, said that his company was delighted to adapt its plant in Dunleer to manufacture protective face shields to aid front line staff in the fight against Covid-19.
InterTradeIreland director of Co-Innovate, Neil Ryan (pictured), said that the agency’s key functions in the Hero Shield initiative included providing a financial lifeline and helping to bring the group together. “The partners have been running at their own cost, as working capital is vital for keeping this operation going for as long as it’s needed. Co-Innovate … will continue to play a central role in coordinating the collective.”
The Hero Shield project partners are making the face visor design available to companies worldwide on an ‘open source’ basis so the product can be re-created wherever it’s needed. A crowfunding campaign for Hero Shield is also ongoing – see here for more details.
Co-Innovate supports over 1,400 SMEs and micro-businesses in Northern Ireland, the border region of Ireland, and Western Scotland to develop their innovation capabilities and collaborate on research and development projects.
Match-funding for the Co-Innovate Programme has been provided by the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation in Ireland.