Not just content to solve a research problem, PhD student, Yannis Salomeia, went one step further by developing the research solution into one that can be applied in industry. The end result being THERMOscan, a unique product that allows plastic bottle manufacturers to accurately measure the temperature of material that is formed into bottles, therefore enabling them to reduce their processing costs and overall material usage.
“I came up with the idea of the technology in the second year of my PhD in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering,” explains Yannis. “Soon after, I had an epiphany and realised that the wide industry my research was serving needed my solution as well. This was the moment when I decided to patent the idea with the vision of transforming the technology into a commercial product.”
The idea was successfully awarded a Proof of Concept Grant from Invest NI and following highly positive feedback from the industry, Yannis, together with Dr. Gary Menary, set-up Blow Moulding Technologies Ltd (BMT) as a spin-out from Queen’s University of Belfast.
With Yannis’ background being predominantly technical he realised that his biggest weakness was lack of business skills and therefore wanted to take full advantage of the Propel programme and his mentor’s expertise.
“Until now, my qualifications and jobs have all been about developing my technical skills. Propel helped me to identify the critical components of my business and execute on them. I entered the programme with a concept and finished it with several orders from a multinational company.”
BMT is set to develop innovative solutions to support the environmentally friendly initiatives of PET plastic bottle manufacturers. The potential customer spectrum is wide and includes two of the biggest players on the market, Evian (part of DANONE group, France) and Logoplaste (Portugal).
“These companies are using mostly empirical methods for development that no longer offer room for improvement,” says Yannis. “There is a strong need for higher technical solutions and this is exactly the niche we aim to operate in.”