A decade ago, Cambridge-based blade manufacturer C4 Carbides had broken into the US market and built up annual sales of £3 million. But in a fast-moving industry it faced a simple choice: innovate or stagnate.
Since first meeting with EEN in the East of England in 2009, CEO Pete Nicholson has been able to tap into grants that led to ground-breaking R&D, patents and products, as well as making a range of other invaluable connections. Turnover stands today at £11 million.
An introduction by EEN to the University of Hertfordshire proved the turning point, a partnership which encouraged Pete to inject academic rigour into his engineering team with the help of Innovate UK funding.
As a result, C4 Carbides developed a revolutionary diamond-coated blade, creating a cutting edge with unprecedented resilience.
It is now a truly international business, selling to Japan, China, Switzerland and across Europe, as well as the US.
The next project is 3D printing of ‘smart teeth’ made from functionally graded, super-abrasive materials. With this market estimated to be worth £2.5 billion globally, the company plans to grow turnover to £70 million over the next decade.
When I set up the company many years ago, I was very creative and imaginative, but when people start to think a lot of themselves they stop looking outside the box. Innovation started to scare me.
Pete Nicolson, CEO C4 Carbides