Copyright: Michael Cooper photography
Racing to success, left, Michael McPeake, Windflow Managing Director, pictured with Olive Hill, Invest NI’s Director of Technology and Process Development
Windflow, a start up business in Crumlin, is being assisted by Invest Northern Ireland to develop an innovative product that can help racing greyhounds run faster.
The small company, formed by Michael McPeake last year, has used an Invest NI Innovation Voucher to turn a smart idea into a unique product, a tailored windsock, that can be used as part of the training regime for greyhounds to enhance their performance.
The windsock, the outcome of research over three years by Mr McPeake, who has extensive experience in the rehabilitation of dogs from muscle injuries, is made from nylon and neoprene and was developed with advice and assistance from the University of Ulster, a collaboration facilitated by the voucher scheme.
Olive Hill, Invest NI’s Director of Technology and Process Development, commenting on the project, said: “The Innovation Voucher scheme was introduced to help businesses to develop innovative solutions to business issues, in this case turning an idea into a viable product with export potential.
“Windflow used the voucher to team up with experts at the University of Ulster for help in designing and assisting the initial trials of a drag inducing windsock/coat that trainers can use when working with greyhounds. Assisting small companies to collaborate with universities and colleges throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in the development of innovative products is a key feature of the Innovation Voucher programme.
“The programme offers small enterprises £4,000 towards the costs of such collaboration over a period of 12 months, which we hope will lead to ongoing development opportunities. Windflow, for instance, has been able to draw on the university’s design and scientific expertise to develop the coat and to ascertain the drag co-efficients required to improve the design and effectiveness of both the windsock and coat.”
Mr McPeake said: “Windflow enables trainers to enhance the training regime by the addition of a coat that has been designed to assist the animal to maximise its performance. It offers an innovative product that the trainer can use to bring a dog to peak performance in a gradual and controlled way.
“Advice and practical support that I’ve received from the University of Ulster through the Innovation Voucher programme has been immensely beneficial. It has helped me to perfect the design of the coat and to successfully conduct initial tests.
“Greyhound racing is a major global sport offering enormous potential for Windflow. There are substantial opportunities in the UK, Republic of Ireland and other international markets such as Australia. The next stage will be to conduct some further scientific tests and set up an e-commerce website to sell the coats worldwide.”