Bangor-based Infineer, a specialist smartcard solutions developer, has formed a strategic alliance with Datacard Group of Minneapolis, Minnesota, the world leader in identity card technology, to expand its US business.

The alliance will see Datacard marketing Infineer’s unique ChipNet product to schools across the US, Canada, Mexico and Latin America. ChipNet utilises personalised smartcards, issued to each student, pre-programmed with school meal allowances and other entitlements, including access to IT resources and library facilities, providing a fast, efficient and secure alternative to managing and tracking cash on campus.

Infineer was helped in developing Datacard as a potential partner by Invest Northern Ireland’s International Partnership Programme (NIIPP).

Eric Martin, Infineer’s General Manager International Sales, said: “Datacard is an excellent partner for us and we look forward to developing our export business with the education sector through this experienced and successful group.

“By combining Datacard’s marketing expertise in ID systems and smartcards with our successful ChipNet product users will have greater access to an affordable, end-to-end solution previously not readily available in North and South America.

“NIIPP’s assistance in helping us to identify such a strong potential partner was invaluable,” he added.

Commenting on the agreement, Martin Kearsley, Senior Vice President of Datacard’s Solutions division, said: “The new distribution agreement gives both companies an opportunity to offer a complete solution, with Datacard providing the secure ID programme and Infineer bringing the cashless transaction element to the smart card.

“Our initial focus will be on targeting ChipNet to schools, before we move onto corporate customers,” he added.

Welcoming the new partnership, Tracy Meharg, Managing Director of Innovation and Capability Development at Invest NI, said: “An alliance enables companies to minimise risks while maximising leverage in a particular marketplace. This is a good example of how a Northern Ireland technology company is using a partnership to access an extensive marketing network.

“The evidence suggests that alliances make good business sense and are capable of generating high returns on investment. The widespread acceptance of alliances in the US provides a business opportunity for Northern Ireland firms to achieve faster growth in this vast marketplace,” she added.

Infineer was helped to identify Datacard by NIIPP’s consultants, Axios International, in the US.