Invest NI programme helps propel entrepreneur to success


Newry entrepreneur Brian Lockhart is hoping to fast track his environmentally friendly invention to commercial success with the help of Invest Northern Ireland’s Propel programme.

Brian, a Director of Craigavon based Wilson's Country, has developed a unique water cleaning system and has set up a new company, Lock-Hart Environmental, to bring it to market.

Mr Lockhart is currently taking part in the Propel programme, which aims to establish successful fast growth, knowledge intensive businesses that could generate significant export sales and boost the local economy. The programme provides entrepreneurs with salary support and the skills, expertise, and networks to fast track the development of their cutting-edge business ideas into profitable global enterprises.

Mr Lockhart got the idea for the product while working for Wilson’s Country where he was tasked with looking at ways of cleaning potato wash waste water to a standard that allowed it to be recycled.

Speaking about his business idea Mr Lockhart said: “Any company that creates waste water needs to comply with discharge or recycling standards. Our innovative modular water cleaning product achieves these high standards with significantly reduced capital expenditure, footprint and running costs, unlike traditional biological or chemical methods.

“The unit will fill a gap in the market for a small-scale effluent treatment process that can treat a wide range of contaminants including heavy metals, bacterial contaminants and carbonic based compounds. It will reduce effluent treatment costs and help businesses to compete in the global market.”

Mr Lockhart is one of 21 entrepreneurs taking part in the Propel programme, which offers master classes, specialist advice from local and international experts, access to potential investors, strategic business planning support, a hot desk at an incubation centre and a research visit to an overseas market. Extensive one-to-one mentoring is also provided.

He says: “The Propel programme has made a huge impact on me. It has given me the tools to structure the business, and build it with strong foundations. I am focusing on producing a robust business plan using all the tools and business detail I have been shown on the programme.”

Alastair Higgins, Invest NI, says: “There is no shortage of innovative ideas in Northern Ireland, which when combined with commercial acumen can produce successful businesses.

“Our Propel programme is helping participants to maximise the commercial potential of their ideas and generate the best possible return for themselves, their investors and the local economy.”