Foster launches innovative new product for automotive industry

Jan 18, 2012

Picture by Harrison Photography

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster pictured with Prof Roy Douglas, Catagen and QUB, and Andrew Woods, CEO Catagen at FAST Technologies' factory in Skeoge, Londonderry.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster was in Londonderry today to launch an innovative new product developed by Catagen, a spin-out company from Queen’s University.

The product, Labcat, enables catalytic converters to be tested without the need to have the engine running. It was developed with support from Invest Northern Ireland and is now being manufactured by FAST Technologies Ltd, which is based in Londonderry.

Catagen has received a recent order from an Italian automobile manufacturer and other major automotive companies and component suppliers have also expressed an interest. With Invest NI’s support, the company has begun implementing a global marketing strategy for the product. It is also planning the development of two larger test machines.

Arlene Foster said: “Catagen is an excellent example of how University-based R&D can be successfully commercialised. Labcat represents a step change in the testing of catalytic converters and as such has huge global potential.

“Northern Ireland has a long history of engineering excellence and innovative new products like this one show that our local expertise continues to blaze a trail. It is also great to see the actual production of Labcat taking place here in FAST Technologies, again underscoring the capability of our local companies.”

Catagen equipment generates a hot mixture of gases, matching exhaust gas flow rates, temperatures and composition. The system passes though the catalytic converter using sophisticated computer control. This approach is up to 85% more cost effective to operate than traditional testing methods and also provides significant environmental improvements with a 98% reduction in C02 emitted from testing and an 80% reduction in energy input.

Funding for the research and commercialisation of Labcat was provided under Invest NI’s Proof of Concept scheme which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

A number of representatives from the automotive research and development sector attended the launch and heard the Minister praise the innovation and expertise of Labcat’s creators Dr Andrew Woods and Professor Roy Douglas.

Dr Woods, Catagen’s CEO, said: “We’re delighted to be launching the Labcat today and are very excited about the level of interest it is generating throughout the automotive industry. The support from Invest NI and Queen’s University to help establish the business, prove the concept and now market it worldwide has been essential in transforming our original idea into a commercial reality.”

Rose Mary Stalker, Non-Executive Director of the Northern Ireland Science Park and former Senior Executive of Ford Motor Company, who also spoke at the launch event, said: “The automotive industry is built on innovation and LabCat is a significant and welcome development in the area of catalytic convertor testing, delivering a cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution. I am sure that it will find international success.”

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