Tree of knowledge to spread into export markets

Apr 30, 2008

Portrush-based Tree of Knowledge Ireland (TOK), a new business, is being helped by Invest Northern Ireland to develop and exploit export opportunities for a new training and learning product.

The company, which has been established by Ben Best, a young entrepreneur, is being assisted under Invest NI’s Growth Accelerator Programme (GAP). The company hopes to develop sales for Apodo, an innovative learning pod in the education and corporate sectors, and Apodium, a learning system for children and young people.

The company is aiming to grow its business in Northern Ireland and particularly in the Republic of Ireland. The learning aids have been developed by Tree of Knowledge (Scotland), a company with which Mr Best previously held a senior position. Mr Best is setting up TOK Ireland with the support of the Scottish business.

Backing for the company was announced today by Des Gartland, Invest NI North West Regional Manager, and Mr Best. The funding will enable the company to strengthen its sales and training activities.

Mr Gartland said: “GAP support will enable this export orientated start-up business to take the necessary steps to develop its first sales in the Republic of Ireland.  We are providing support for two key employees whose primary role will be to help the business grow exports to at least 25 per cent of turnover over the next 12 months.

“TOK Ireland will also be able to draw on the experience of the Scottish business which has proven the effectiveness of the two learning products and has secured contracts with leading education and corporate organisations including Starbucks and Asda.

“From experience in Great Britain, there is clearly a significant market for such motivational tools.  Our backing for the start-up business should also help in leveraging support from other sources,” he added.

Mr Best said: “I’ve set up the company to develop significant opportunities I’ve pinpointed within the educational and corporate sectors in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, for the inspirational motivational training aids that have proved successful for TOK Scotland. The more children and staff that we can help to smile and enjoy their day, every day, the better.

“We’ve already had approaches to provide the products and training to secondary schools in Belfast and interest is being shown by education authorities in other areas including the Republic of Ireland.

“The Apodo product, for instance, has been developed to stimulate the creativity of students from primary to further education with a series of fun prompts, props and creative challenges.  This system meets the direct needs of the new skills and capability based curriculum of learning. Apodium enables pupils to extend thinking and to take responsibility for their own learning,” he added.

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