Ballymena-based Moore Concrete has signed a technology transfer deal that could help farmers in Northern Ireland, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland meet a new EU environmental requirement to store slurry securely above ground.
The company, a market leader in precast products for the farming, construction and civil engineering sectors, is to manufacture and market innovative slurry storage systems under an agreement with Lundsby Industri of Gested, Denmark. The deal was agreed with advice and guidance from Invest Northern Ireland’s In-Market Support Service in Europe’s Benelux region.
In-Market Support for Moore Concrete was provided by Northern Ireland Trade Consultants (NITC), a market research and lead generation business in Amsterdam, which is contracted by Invest NI to help smaller local companies to develop business in key European markets such as the Netherlands and Belgium.
Alan Hingston, Invest NI’s Trade director, says: “Our In-Market Support Service offers companies strongly practical assistance from experienced business people in an individual global market in evaluating opportunities and in pinpointing potential customers or partners.
“As an essential part of Invest NI’s corporate focus on ‘being international’, we have established a network on business advisers which local companies can access in markets such as the Benelux region, Germany, the US, South Africa and Asia Pacific.”
John Parkinson, Moore Concrete’s sales and marketing director, says: “We were keen to expand our successful farm products business and saw an opportunity to harness our existing precast expertise that includes cattle slats, wall systems, drinking and feeding troughs.
“The introduction of new slurry storage rules, which are scheduled to come into force in 2007, provided us with a new market opportunity. We were aware that several European countries already required above ground storage and we saw an opportunity to learn from experience of companies there.
“The In-Market Support Service is an excellent programme. NITC in Amsterdam helped to identify and complete a knowledge transfer arrangement with a suitable partner in Denmark that will bring significant benefits to our business.
“Not only did NITC pinpoint several potential partners for us from extensive in-market research, an experienced executive there took care of all our travel arrangements, set up visits to companies and accompanied to all the meetings. The presence of someone fluent in the main languages and vastly experienced in European business procedures at our meetings proved to be immensely important.
“Finding the right partner and negotiating successfully a technology transfer agreement in Europe was quite a challenge for a company of our size. I don’t think that we could have achieved this as quickly as we did without the advice and very practical support from NITC,” he adds. The company has a lengthy list of inquiries about the precast storage system and plans to begin production soon.
Moore Concrete began production of a range of precast concrete products at Ballymena in 1984. The company currently employs 62 people.
In January 2004, NITC was commissioned to research the market for a suitable partner for Moore Concrete. Six potential partners were identified – three in Denmark, two in Germany and one in the Netherlands.
NITC arranged a series of meetings with senior managers of the six companies for Moore Concrete in April 2004. Following talks with the companies, Moore Concrete pinpointed Lundsby as being the best fit in terms of product. A knowledge transfer agreement was signed in March.