Heating firm Okotech gives Michelin Development cash boost a warm welcome
A Co Antrim company with a heating control system for care homes has received a five-figure funding boost to help it explore new markets.
Okotech said the cash injection from Michelin Development would help take its heatboss project to the next level of development.
Chief executive Janette O'Hagan said the firm is already in touch with potential partners across Ireland and overseas.
Michelin Development was set up by the French tyre giant to help go-getting businesses in the areas close to its plants – and so alighted on Okotech, based near to its Ballymena factory.
Heatboss uses room-level control to regulate heating in commercial premises which the firm said has helped care homes reduce heating costs by up to 30%.
The husband-and-wife business was set up in 2011 and since then, Janette and Gary O'Hagan have been testing hardware and software, and carrying out trials of the product in care homes.
Now they want to take the innovation to more markets.
Mrs O'Hagan said: "We always knew there was significant scope to extend heatboss beyond care home settings but as a young and lean business we only had a limited amount of resources to develop the product and push it on to the next level.
"Like any emerging start-up business, cashflow is a major concern and we were initially finding it impossible to secure funding at sustainable levels until Michelin Development stepped in offering such favourable terms. The funding is obviously hugely important to us but the scheme has also offered us a wealth of extra support in areas where we initially only had limited experience.
"Working with a multinational organisation will be invaluable and we will be able to significantly hone our skills in a variety of areas."
She added the support of Michelin had given the firm both "collateral and extra confidence" to take heatboss into new markets, adding that the technology could even be adapted to the home.
Michelin business development manager Cecil Caldwell said: "Many would-be entrepreneurs start out with a great idea but simply don't have the dedication or wherewithal to turn it into a viable business proposition.
"Janette and Gary from Okotech have worked extremely hard to bring their product to the marketplace so it is a real pleasure to be able to help them take it to the next level.
"Heatboss is a simple yet highly compelling solution that promises to be used in a variety of applications and settings and is particularly timely, given the escalating cost of energy."
The amount the development arm has lent in the past 10 years
When tyre company Michelin first opened its plant in Ballymena
Total of Michelin employees, plus sales organisations in 170 countries