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Mushroom harvesting innovation secures £4m deal


Craigavon-based Axis Technology & Development has secured a £4m deal to supply 32 harvesting conveyors and 17 mushroom processing units to Canadian mushroom grower Highline Mushrooms.

Axis, a beneficiary of Invest NI Research and Development (R&D) support to develop and refine its mushroom harvesting system, is recruiting seven new staff members to support its growth.

Its machinery improves the efficiency of the mushroom harvesting and packing process by over 100%, allowing harvesters to operate at four times their normal output.

“Axis Technology is a great example of a Northern Ireland company which has put innovation at the forefront of its growth strategy,” said Economy Minister Diane Dodds. “Seeing a gap in the market, it has used Invest NI’s R&D support to strengthen its competitive position and grow sales in export markets.

“This ambitious strategy is delivering valuable results for the company with this £4m contract. It will complete the final stages of the remaining installation over the next few weeks.

“Successes such as these show that there is still a clear appetite for Northern Ireland products and services in international markets, even during challenging times. Invest NI is on hand to help and has a vast range of support on offer.”

Alan Doake, director of Axis Technology, said: “Mushroom growers face a constant challenge of recruiting and retaining staff to harvest their crops. Traditional mushroom harvesting by hand is not only time consuming but can lead to a considerable amount of wastage.

“Our mushroom harvesting system combats these challenges and enables farmers to increase the volumes of mushrooms harvested by more than 10% from reducing wastage alone. Utilising our system considerably increases the farms profitability through increased efficiency while also typically halving harvesting costs.

“With Invest NI’s support, we have invested in R&D to refine and improve our technology which is manufactured on site in Craigavon. Last year, we hit a bump in the road when Covid travel restrictions were implemented but thankfully, over the last few months we have been able to travel to Canada to complete the initial installation works.

“Winning this contract is a huge deal for us as it reinforces our growing reputation in the Canadian market. We very much look forward to expanding our team with seven new staff to support the demand for our technology in not only Canada but worldwide and in doing so, continue to build a strong export focused business.”

Since 2017, Invest NI has provided advice on UK Patent application and EU design registration and offered the company £120,000 of support towards R&D for the design and development of its mushroom harvesting system, skills development and technical assistance.

Kevin Holland, CEO, Invest NI, said: “Axis Technology is a company with innovation at its heart. I am pleased that our range of R&D support has led to this success. Canada is our third largest export market and this new contract win demonstrates the opportunities available overseas for ambitious Northern Ireland companies.

“The £4m deal is a defining moment for Axis Technology and shows the importance of innovation in helping a company to expand sales into global markets. With its continued focus on innovation, I am sure Axis Technology is well positioned to capitalise on future growth in Canada and further afield.”

Axis has been awarded a Platinum Level Innovator Certificate from Innovate NI, a Department for the Economy programme delivered by Invest Northern Ireland, local councils and further education colleges.

Invest NI’s R&D support is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth & Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme.

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