NWRC announces £100K R&D innovation project with Porter Bathrooms

By Aoife Curran

The North West Regional College’s (NWRC) Business Support Centre (BSC) has announced details of a new Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project with Porter Bathrooms in Kesh, Co. Fermanagh. The 2-year project, funded by InnovateUK and Invest NI, is worth over £100k, and aims to see through the development of a world leading bathroom product targeting export markets.

The project funding was unlocked with the support of the Connected programme which provided funding for the NWRC to scope the business and market needs and develop a business case and funding application which has now been successful. The NWRC is now looking to recruit a design engineer based at Porter Bathrooms in Kesh, to support the company and academic partnership to deliver this innovation project.

Philip Devlin, Manager of NWRC’s Product Design Centre said: ‘’Porter Bathrooms is a leading UK and Ireland manufacturer of high-end bathroom products. We had worked with Porter Bathrooms via a DfE funded InnovateUs project and an Invest NI Innovation Voucher and Porter Bathrooms mentioned that they had further ideas that they’d like to explore. With funding from the Connected programme we had several meetings with Porter Bathrooms and one of the KTP advisors in Northern Ireland, Stephen McComb, to explore opportunities for developing an innovative, new-to-market-product.

‘’Following an application to InnovateUK’s KTP programme the project was successful in being funded and we are now progressing to recruit a design engineer to lead the project. What we’re looking to achieve through this knowledge transfer partnership is accessible, quality research that will lead to the development of a world leading bathroom product that will be ultra-efficient that will enable Porter Bathrooms to expand their business and compete on a global scale.”

He added: ‘’Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) is Europe’s leading programme helping businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK knowledge base. It also enables businesses to access highly qualified people to spearhead new projects and experts to take their business forward with innovative solutions to help them business grow, and Porter Bathrooms is a prime example of this.

‘’At the NWRC we have a dedicated Product Design Centre where we have invested over £500k in a range of additive and subtractive manufacturing equipment. The staff there utilises these facilities and their technical knowledge and expertise to support entrepreneurs and businesses to take their ideas and make them a reality. These facilities will be important as part of this new product development project with Porter Bathrooms.”

The NWRC Business Support Centre has been operational for more than 5 years and assists businesses with training and skills development, technical mentoring and industry research and development. It supports over 400 companies annually via various programmes such as Connected, Invest NI Innovation Vouchers, the Department for the Economy (DfE) funded InnovateUs and Skills Focus programmes, InterTradeIreland Fusion and the InnovateUK and Invest NI KTP programme.

Details of the KTP Design Engineer role can be seen via the NWRC website on https://www.nwrc.ac.uk/jobs-at-nwrc/  and for further details on how the BSC can help your business contact the NWRC BSC on businesssupport@nwrc.ac.uk or visit www.nwrc.ac.uk/bsc

Roy Persse, Director of Porter Bathrooms with Jonathan Steele, Designer at NWRC's Product Design Centre at the launch of the £100k R&D Innovation Project.
Roy Persse, Director of Porter Bathrooms pictured Jonathan Steele, Product Designer at NWRC's Product Design Centre.