The sustainable SME: An Eco-design KTP success

The sustainable SME: An Eco-design KTP success

Cardiff-Met-SoR-IntroOdoni-Elwell started working with Cardiff Metropolitan University by hosting graduate interns and undergraduate students on work placements.

As the relationship developed, we set up a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) – a part funded government programme that enables business and universities to work together on innovative new projects.

Prior to working with the University, Odoni-Elwell were a traditional steel modular buildings manufacturer – specialising in bike shelters. As a company we felt that our buildings and designs lacked innovation and inspiration, and we wanted to bring our designs into the 21st Century.

As such the KTP project with the University’s Art and Design School was born - our aim was to implement expertise from University to develop and embed a new design process that included key aspects of User-Centred Design and Ecodesign bespoke to us.

Since the completion of the KTP project we have moved away from traditional cycle storage and modular building designs and created ground breaking new designs. This has opened up new markets to us and enabled us to diversify and grow. We have refocused our Company ethos towards eco-friendly and sustainable materials, we are now known as a company with high social and environmental standards.

Correct market positioning and branding has offered opportunities to increase profits and compete on a much larger scale.

The company’s strategy has considerably evolved as a direct consequence of the KTP. We target higher profile work/clients through the addition of eco-design/user-centred design processes. Consequently, the organisation’s profile has become considerably enhanced and we currently enjoy public speaking platforms not previously available. Due to the knowledge added to the company, we have been asked - and able - to talk about ‘practical’ design approaches: eco-design, user-centred design, and sustainability. Consequently we have received orders that we would not previously have been able to secure and are also in dialogue with new clients about sizeable contracts. As a direct result of the partnership we have broken into the cycle-hubs market, expanding our horizons and visibility. An additional benefit of working with Cardiff Met has been a rebranding process aligned with social media and traditional marketing; activities the organisation had not previously considered.

Financially the collaboration has resulted in £180,000 of sales in a new market for us, revenues that we forecast will grow to half a million within three years.

On a personal level, I (Simon Nurse, General Manager)was delighted in the professionalism displayed by all parties associated with the KTP. The programme is wonderfully supported and monitored, with very clear goals and expectations of all parties. Having direct access to an academic institution of the quality of Cardiff Metropolitan University also proved invaluable. There is little doubt that the manner in which we now present the company to external stakeholders has been significantly influenced by this relationship; not something that was envisaged at the start.

“The KTP project has been a great success story for the University, and the relationship has continued to develop after completion of the project. By working with a company in this way we have been able to apply the academic expertise of staff in a ‘real world’ situation, provide case studies for our students, and provide a talented graduate with a job.”

Richard Mahoney, Senior Enterprise Officer, Cardiff Metropolitan University

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