Carrick Firm Burns a Path to Export Success

Carrickfergus company Averna Europe has achieved major export success with high-tech laser testing devices developed with support from Invest Northern Ireland.

The Canadian-owned company, formerly known as Mindready Solutions, has invested almost £250,000 over the last four years in the development of sophisticated devices used by laser manufacturers. Invest NI offered almost £90,000 of R&D support towards the investments and facilitated the company’s participation on group trade missions to China in 2005 and 2007.

Subsequently, Averna has secured sales to the USA and China and these markets now account for over 30% of the company’s total turnover. Sales to Germany and Great Britain have also increased.

The company’s devices are used in the quality control testing of lasers which are used in products such as CD and DVD players, as well as in medical, industrial and communications equipment. Laser manufacturers use the devices when carrying out compulsory tests on new lasers. This includes both testing some product batches to destruction to assess durability, as well as a short initial period of operation, or “burn-in”, which is necessary for every laser before it is dispatched for sale.

Averna Europe was established as Systems Solutions in 1983 and was bought by Mindready Solutions in 2000. In February 2008 it was acquired by Averna, the second largest test engineering company in North America.

Richard Furey, Vice President of Operations at Averna Europe is pleased with the results achieved following the investment in R&D: “With over 25 years’ experience in the production of electronic testing equipment, and with lasers becoming more and more widely used, the move to producing laser testing equipment was a natural, yet important, progression if we were to remain competitive.

“With the support of Invest NI, we developed products for the photonics market, such as laser printers and other low-powered devices, with some success, before seeing the opportunity to cater for higher magnitude lasers. The high technical specification of our products coupled with Invest NI’s help with accessing foreign markets, especially China, has seen our export turnover soar in that market from a zero position within the last three years.”

Mr Furey continued: “This export success and our strong focus on innovation also made the company a more attractive proposition for our new parent company, Averna. The acquisition by Averna gives us even greater global reach which we hope to take advantage of going forward.”

Carol Keery, Invest NI’s Director of Innovation, Research and Technology, said: “Averna Europe has built on a strong domestic market position by investing in R&D and looking to overseas markets in order to grow its profits. The company’s high level of technical expertise has enabled it to differentiate its product offering and gain a foothold in the lucrative American and Chinese markets.”

Invest NI has offered research and development funding for this project through its COMPETE programme, which is part funded by the European Competitiveness Programme 2007 – 2013 under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).