Innovative Willis Solasyphon wins first US business

Award winning Willis Solasyphon has won its first order from a major solar equipment manufacturer in the US. The contract from Apricus was announced by Tracy Meharg, Invest NI’s Managing Director of Innovation and Capability Development, during a visit to the north Belfast company.

Willis has been assisted by Invest NI through R&D programmes to develop Solasyphon, and through marketing assistance to export Solasyphon worldwide.

Welcoming the company’s breakthrough into the US market, Tracy Meharg said: “Willis is an excellent example of how a long-established business focused primarily on the local marketplace can re-invent itself and become an international enterprise through investment in innovation.

“This strategically important breakthrough in the US is very timely given the commitment of President Obama to invest heavily in measures that will reduce substantially the nation’s over-dependence on fossil fuels. Solasyphon offers homeowners in particular a very cost-effective means of harnessing solar energy for water heating.

“The opportunities for this Northern Ireland innovation are now developing steadily in other global markets. We look forward to continuing our work with this ambitious company as it seeks to harness the global potential of this product and others it is currently planning,” she added.

John Willis, Willis Managing Director said, “Apricus is a great starting point for us in what is potentially a huge market. The contract follows initial contacts which led to an invitation to make a presentation on Solasyphon to the company’s distributors at their sales convention in Connecticut last November.

“Feedback from the presentation was very encouraging. Those present saw the business opportunity that the product offers against the background of the US administration’s developing focus on renewable technologies. The first orders followed swiftly from the convention and the products are now being installed in key centres.”

Willis recently added the prestigious Rushlight Cleantech Award to the Invest NI Innovation Award 2008 and is now supplying the leading-edge Solasyphon product to Apricus, an Australian/Chinese joint venture with a developing market presence in the US solar energy industry.

Apricus has an extensive distribution network in the US for its solar equipment, which is mostly manufactured in China. Apricus distributors will now be marketing the Willis product throughout the nation.