Next time you’re cycling down the road at night and are safely guided around road works, the chances are you have been kept safe by technology developed by Ashington company I-Glo.
Established in 2016, I-Glo’s innovative products have propelled it into the number one slot as the market leader in safety and access solutions for flooring, steps, evacuation advice, pathways and road crossings, with the help of investment from the North of Tyne Growth Fund, funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and supported by the North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA).
I-Glo is winning clients all over the world with its bespoke safety systems based on the glow in the dark technology – glass beads with below the dot polymers – which ensure safe wayfinding without streetlights. Glass beads are encapsulated in glow polymer to produce ‘glow beads’. In the dark, the glow beads emit a strong and consistent light to guide people and keep them safe. The beads can be charged by solar or artificial light, require no batteries, wiring or maintenance, yet ensure a brighter and longer lasting glow.
Technical Director Dave Wagstaff, who joined I-Glo in its infancy, explains the reason for the company’s growth to date: “It’s new technology, it’s hugely popular with our customers, and we have the worldwide patent. Making roads and pathways safe using the glow beads is incredibly cost effective for utility companies and local authorities, and avoids expensive compensation cases.
“Such has been the popularity of the glow beads, we needed much bigger facilities – and the North of Tyne Growth Fund investment has helped us to build a new, fully automated multi-purpose plant.”
As well as the glow beads, the new plant will also increase production of the company’s aluminium ramp system, popular with companies which need to dig up pavements or roads, and where pedestrian or cycle traffic has to be rerouted: “Planks, metal sheets and yellow kerb ramps are used widely but can often be the source of slip, trip and fall accidents. To bridge the height differential of the kerb the ramp is elevated using screw jacks thereby eliminating costly trip accidents. The ramp itself is coated with a long-lasting anti-slip coating helping to prevent costly slip accidents.
“Pedestrians, people in wheelchairs and scooters are then protected by any sudden changes in levels. At night our glow beads create a pathway so there’s a clear way of moving from one ramp to another and for cyclist to navigate around the streetworks. Falls and injuries are prevented, and hundreds of millions of pounds are saved because people aren’t tripping, slipping or falling.”
Dave said the last 12 months had presented a few challenges but had also given the company the luxury of time to really focus on next steps for growth: “We’ve really been able to focus on our R&D and also to plan the expanded facility we need to keep us at the top of our game – and the investment funding from the North of Tyne Growth Fund has been instrumental in the whole process.
“The team explained the whole funding process clearly and simply, and what we could be entitled to in terms of equipment purchase. In the end, we were awarded £67,000, and as well as the new facility, we’ve been able to revamp our website and create lots of exciting new marketing material to take to the international marketplace.
“I would absolutely encourage companies to pick up the phone and talk to the Growth Fund. We would have gone ahead with the investment, but couldn’t afford to do it all at once - so it wouldn’t have had the impact. Instead, we now have a turnkey offering that is state of the art, bespoke and flexible – and our customers are telling us how much they love it.”
Jamie Driscoll from the NTCA, said: “Mike and his team at the Growth Fund offer practical and common sense financial advice for companies that need some additional investment to get them to their growth goal.
“I-Glo had already given a lot of time to thinking about new product development which they knew there was strong market demand for. They had investment funding of their own earmarked and this, together with the Growth Fund investment, will help them achieve their exciting growth plan and offer new jobs in new technology.”
The North of Tyne Growth Fund is a £4.6m investment programme funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) which supports SME growth across Northumberland, North Tyneside and Newcastle local authorities. Expanding small and medium-sized businesses based in Newcastle, North Tyneside or Northumberland could be eligible for a grant of up to 30% of expenditure, if they are planning capital investment of at least £67,000.
The Fund fosters innovative processes to drive productivity, resulting in increased profitability, wage growth and employment growth in SMEs, strengthening the Northern economy, creating jobs and stimulating growth across the region.
The Fund is supported by the North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA), a partnership of three local authorities: Newcastle, North Tyneside, and Northumberland and a directly-elected Metro Mayor.
The Fund is managed by UMi, which celebrates and inspires entrepreneurship. UMi has just launched a new tool which helps companies to make better business decisions more quickly.
Since 2007, UMi has guided more than 450,000 businesses across the UK to do more and go further. It does this by finding and packaging the best information, expertise and finance so businesses can get more of what they want - whether that’s more funding, customers, talent or more free time.
For more information about the Growth Fund call 0191 716 1007 or email email@example.com