Smart Wall Paint will use R&D partnership with DIT to keep one step ahead
Dublin-based Smart Wall Paint already has an enviable list of blue chip customers for its innovative one-coat paint, which turns any surface into a whiteboard. Since the product was launched in 2011, Smart WP has established a still growing network of 18 distributors in 23 countries. Its customers include top companies such as Google, SAP and Marks & Spencer as well as art galleries, universities and government departments worldwide.
Company founder and managing director Ronan Clarke began working on the project in 2008 and participated in a New Frontiers entrepreneur development programme at Dublin Institute of Technology's Hothouse Innovation and Tech Transfer Centre. New Frontiers is an Enterprise Ireland national programme run in 14 campus incubation centres across the country.
With core development undertaken in-house, from the outset the team recognised that they needed to develop their next generation technologies. "For that we needed access to the kind of highly specialist R&D that's usually only available to much larger companies," Clarke says.
Having reviewed the options, the team selected DIT’s Centre for Research in Environmental Surface Technology (CREST). A five month feasibility study, undertaken with the help of an Enterprise Ireland Innovation Voucher, was followed by the funding of a deeper collaboration, under an Innovation Partnership award, facilitated by DIT's transfer technology unit, Hothouse.
The CREST team, led by Centre Manager Dr Brendan Duffy, works closely with the company's specialists and its product manufacturer, with the clear aim of developing new technologies which are commercially viable. "This is an incremental process of fundamental science and extensive trials that involves really blue sky thinking," Clarke says. The tangible results of this partnership so far are three (imminent) patents and a further five products in the pipeline for delivery in the medium term.
"For us, CREST has been the perfect partner," Clarke says. "We see it very much as a long-term partnership, a strong collaboration between every member of our hard working team and CREST that goes well beyond just technical matters."
That partnership has great benefits for DIT too, says Tom Flanagan, DIT Hothouse Director. "Working with entrepreneurs makes industry research relevant and exciting for academics. They can also see exactly what is involved if they choose to launch their own companies."
Publish date: 2014