Londonderry dog bowl in top US innovation awards

A radically different dog feeding bowl developed by a small Derry company with assistance from Invest Northern Ireland has been listed for an award at Pet Fashion Week, which takes place in New York on 23-24 August 2008.

The innovative HugX ergonomic bowl, designed by Derry businesswoman Jane Grant with help from the University of Ulster and Invest NI’s Technical Advisory Unit, is in the running for a Lifestyle Innovation Award.  The event is the world’s only design show for the pet lifestyle industry, which is this year focusing on developments in dinnerware for pets. The HugX bowl is among eight finalists in the international awards.

The company has also recently won business for its unique feeding bowl from the Rex Dog Hotel and Spa in Vancouver. The HugX bowl is also on sale in the UK, Europe, Japan and the Middle East.

Ms Grant, an experienced marketing professional who formed the designer pet business in 2004, said being listed in the awards will help the company to raise its profile and drive sales ahead faster in the US.

“The US is the world’s biggest and most dynamic marketplace for all types of pet products.  Being listed there for an award during Pet Fashion Week will help to raise awareness of our feeding bowls and other products including design co-ordinated travel bags.

“The HugX bowl is being recognised increasingly as is a total re-think on dog dining. It has no corners to trap food. The high grip rubber feet and a wide foot print of the holder prevent toppling or movement around the floor.

“It’s also attracting interest from vets and pet owners who have recognised the convenience of a HugX bowl when their animals are wearing an Elizabethan collar. Uniquely, and critically when a pet needs to be able to access its food and water after surgery they can do so easily, there is no need to remove these post operative collars,” she added.

The company has been assisted by Invest Northern Ireland’s North West Regional office in Derry towards the development of the product and essential marketing.

Des Gartland, Manager of Invest NI’s NWRO, welcoming the company’s developments in the US, said: “This is a very innovative product which has already received a high level of media exposure through television and print and has been enthusiastically received by the pet trade.

“America is an important marketplace for HugX because owners there currently spend around $41 billion on their pets - more than the gross domestic product of all but 64 countries in the world.  Over 70 million US homes now own at least one pet, including 75 million dogs and 88 million cats.”