Belfast Telegraph

Royal accolade bestowed on three Northern Ireland firms

Peter McRoberts, Danske Bank; Alastair Hamilton, Invest NI; Yelo’s Richard Furey; and Alderman Maureen Morrow at the opening of Yelo’s factory
Peter McRoberts, Danske Bank; Alastair Hamilton, Invest NI; Yelo’s Richard Furey; and Alderman Maureen Morrow at the opening of Yelo’s factory
Edge Innovate managing director Darragh Cullen (right) with operations director Niall McKiver and staff
Emma Deighan

By Emma Deighan

Three Northern Ireland firms have been awarded prestigious Queen's Award for Enterprise for International Trade today.

Edge Innovate in Co Tyrone, Yelo in Carrickfergus and baby product producer Shnuggle from Newtownards have been given the Queen's Award for International Trade for Outstanding Short Term Growth in overseas sales over the last three years.

They are three of 201 UK companies to receive the accolade.

Edge Innovate is a recycling equipment exporter based in Dungannon, while Yelo designs and manufactures equipment for the electronics market.

The Co Tyrone firm has seen its overseas earnings grow by 68% over three years in markets including the United States, Australia, France, Canada and Japan.

Darragh Cullen, managing director of Edge Innovate, said the company, which employs almost 200 people, saw exports rise from 85% in 2016 to 93% last year.

He said that the boost has allowed it to invest £8m in an expansion of its production and office facilities.

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The investment will also include the creation of 80 new roles and a leadership and skills development programme.

Mr Cullen said: "This renowned accolade is the highest award available to us. It is the result of years of dedication from a team of high-performing people right across all our business functions.

"Their dedication and commitment is second to none. Every member of our team has been instrumental in developing a world-class business delivering world-class products and services right across the globe.

"Our distribution partners have been a huge part of our successful story and the winning of this coveted award.

"This story is only beginning, however. We seek to further improve, expand and fulfil the needs of our people and our customers."

Now in its 53rd year, the Queen's Award for Enterprise is considered the most prestigious business award in the UK. Two other local firms were also credited for their export growth.

System solutions firm Yelo, which employs 40 people, is the only manufacturer of photonics burn-in and life test systems in the UK.

It saw major turnover growth which led to the construction of a new 25,000 sq ft facility in Carrickfergus two years ago, and across the last three years its overseas sales have grown by 138% with its main markets being China, Israel, Thailand, North America and Europe.

Meanwhile, Shnuggle, which employs seven people and is run by Sinead and Adam Murphy, started trading in 2009 and by 2015 its products were listed with major retailers. Its range of sleeping, bathing and changing products are exported to over 20 countries. Its exports have more than quadrupled over the last three years.

The Award for Enterprise celebrates the Queen Elizabeth's 93rd birthday. All winners will be invited to a royal reception to receive their award from one of the Queen's representatives, a Lord-Lieutenant. They will also be given a Grant of Appointment and a commemorative crystal trophy, and will be able to fly The Queen's Award flag at the main office, as well as use the emblem on marketing materials for five years.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said the awards "shine a light on all that is great about UK business today".

"These awards recognise the innovative products and services being provided by British businesses that are in demand across the world, as well as the sheer determination and hard work that comes with starting and running a business," he added.

"Many of these winners are small businesses - the backbone of our economy - and we are backing them to grow, increase their productivity and create more jobs and opportunity across the UK through our modern Industrial Strategy."

Belfast Telegraph