Belfast Firm Brings Relief to Back Pain Sufferers in North America

Oct 19, 2004

Sufferers of crippling lower back pain in North America are now finding relief using an innovative cushion developed by a small Belfast medical device company and marketed with help from Invest Northern Ireland's Technology and Development Centre (NITDC) in Denver.
18/10/2004

Sufferers of crippling lower back pain in North America are now finding relief using an innovative cushion developed by a small Belfast medical device company and marketed with help from Invest Northern Ireland’s Technology and Development Centre (NITDC) in Denver.

Orthodocs, based at East Belfast Enterprise Park, has recently clinched deals that will see its Rophi branded cushions for back pain marketed by North America’s biggest television shopping channel and by one of the continent’s leading mail order catalogues.

The company, which employs four people in Belfast, developed the breakthrough US television and catalogue deals through business contacts pinpointed by NITDC staff in Denver. First-time business has also been secured in Canada.

Robert Lloyd, managing director of Orthodocs, says: “The centre’s support has been invaluable. Without the very practical advice and assistance provided by Invest NI we couldn’t have hoped to reach such important marketing and sales channels as quickly as we have done.

“The centre opened doors for us to major distributors, which have helped us to access key buyers in organisations that will enable us to reach a vast market. Current sales projections indicate a tripling of our turnover over the next two years.

“North America is a new market that we began to investigate a couple of years ago on Invest NI trade missions. A mission to Denver began the relationship with the NITDC there. In addition to the support provided by staff at the centre in the identification of business opportunities and contacts, we’ve used the centre as our US office and being able to include the World Trade Centre as our address has helped us immensely in our dealings with American companies,” he adds.

Alan Hingston, director of Invest NI’s Trade division, welcoming the company’s export success, says: “As the success of Orthodocs shows, our technology and development centres in key markets are producing tangible benefits for smaller companies aiming to move into exports.

“The centres are a key feature of our In-Market Support services within our Passport to Export programme which offers practical export support for companies. Training workshops for Passport to Export start later this month, and we are encouraging local companies to take part.”

Orthodocs, which also sells its cushions to health bodies in the United Kingdom, has used Invest NI missions to explore business in the Far East. Hakuju Corporation, Japan’s leading distributor of medical devices, is currently market testing the Rophi cushions in the region. The cushions are also being marketed by television shopping channels in Germany and France.

The Rophi cushions are based on a unique design developed by the Northern Ireland company, where marketing and R&D operations are concentrated


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