An ink manufacturing firm which already sells to 30 countries from the Tyne Valley is setting its sights on new markets with help from Enterprise Europe Network.
Hexham-based Multichem, which has been trading for more than 40 years and employs 16 people, is working on four product launches in the whiteboard market over the next six months.
The company has established itself as a market leader in inks for whiteboard, permanent markers and highlighter pens but also wanted to diversify into other areas as a way of future-proofing the business and securing existing jobs.
Coatings technology and cosmetics were among a list of 45 ideas that the Hexham-based company considered but they eventually called in Enterprise Europe Network in the north east of England for expert advice on choosing the best to invest in.
Working through the EU’s Innovate 2 Succeed programme, fully-funded for SMEs such as Multichem, EEN adviser David Boath helped the management team to pinpoint opportunities with the greatest commercial potential.
He first asked the company’s newly-formed product development team to look through all the ideas and take ownership of those they could champion.
After a workshop scored them against EEN’s market research, staff made presentations to a ‘dragon’s den’ style panel of Multichem’s senior management. Their EEN adviser helped them put the pitches together and mentored them through the presentations.
The new products being launched include: paint markers for industrial markets; fine liner inks for the art and creative markets globally, moving from solvent to water-based inks; and double-ended marker inks for the core whiteboard/education markets.
We hope to have developed the first four products in six months but they have a long customer evaluation process, which is standard in the whiteboard market.
All the staff enjoyed the sessions immensely. While the projects taken forward are within our current sphere, the skills they’ve learned will be used, moving forward.
It’s somewhere to channel all this innovative energy and find the next big thing. That’s as important to me as the products – my staff feeling they are developing as part of the process.
Michael Nelson, Mulitchem