IT Sligo academics have been praised for their role in an InterTradeIreland FUSION project that has helped a Co Down firm develop a novel approach to eco-friendly housing.
Kelly Brothers Building Contractors from Warrenpoint has won a ‘Project Exemplar’ award for outstanding innovation as part of the FUSION initiative.
The programme enables knowledge and technology transfer between business and academia to support innovation and increase capability within SMEs.
Through InterTradeIreland support, the family-owned construction firm was able to appoint Queen’s University, Belfast graduate Stephen McGlew to lead its innovation project and team up with civil engineering and architecture staff from the School of Engineering at Design at IT Sligo.
The ‘Project Exemplar’ award recognises exceptionally high levels of innovation and collaboration between a firm, their graduate and academics as part of the FUSION programme.
Leonard Kelly of Kelly Brothers explained: “In recent years we have been committed to the use of sustainable materials and energy efficient construction processes in all our work but, in the current climate, in order to continue to be affordable to our clients, it was vital that a more cost-effective, eco-friendly building model was developed. We needed extra skilled resource to take this idea forward and the InterTradeIreland FUSION programme proved to be the perfect solution.
“With a background in civil engineering and sustainable development, our graduate Stephen McGlew was able to take our idea for the project and implement it with the added support of the academic experts from IT Sligo, Dr Patrick Naughton, Dr Tomas O’Flaherty and Mr Peter Scanlon.
“We have already started to use this model in a new private housing scheme in Northern Ireland and have plans to introduce it further afield. The link with the academics from IT Sligo will also be invaluable for future developments and we already have additional ideas which we would like to take forward with them.”
Dr Naughton said: “The construction industry is often slow to innovate. However, I think Kelly Bros have shown that there are significant commercial advantages in doing focused research and development projects. As a result of this InterTradeIreland FUSION project, Kelly’s are now well positioned to capitalise on the current upturn in the construction industry by providing cost-effective high energy rated houses for their clients. “
InterTradeIreland is currently seeking local companies with an innovation need for the FUSION Programme. FUSION currently offers up to €52,800 per company to help SMEs innovate and improve their products, processes or services through the programme. Participants will have access to the best ideas and expertise on the island, supporting them in fulfilling 12 month and 18 month projects.
For more information on the FUSION programme or to apply, visit www.intertradeireland.com/fusion
(Left to right) Dr Patrick Naughton, Senior Lecturer, Civil Engineering IT Sligo, InterTradeIreland CEO, Thomas Hunter McGowan, Stephen McGlew, Dr Tomas O’Flaherty, Lecturer, Civil Engineering IT Sligo and Mark Kelly, Director of Warrenpoint-based construction company, Kelly Brothers. Through the project, the team developed a new low cost, eco-friendly modular housing model for both the domestic and export market.