A green technology firm plans to almost treble its workforce from 35 to 100 on the back of growing export demands, which could take turnover to £25m within five years.
Gateshead firm nano-porous solutions ltd (n-psl) was established in 2007 by managing director Colin Billiet, the firm’s main investor – who was previously best known for building up filtration firm Domnick Hunter into a £200m business – alongside other directors and Bath University.
The company’s technology, first harnessed at Bath, uses tiny hollow fibres to filter out pollutants from gas streams and create compressed air, which can be used in a whole range of industries, including construction, the manufacture of cars, food, pharmaceuticals and healthcare.
After going into production with its first filters the business has seen staff levels rise from an initial team of three to 35, with worldwide sales topping £1m on its first product.
Export sales now account for 85% of turnover, with the US being the company’s main market.
Since going into production the firm has risen to become a leader in technological advancement, operating in a market worth more than £65m
Now, as it ramps up its activities, the business said it aims to put ambitious growth plans into action, which will see a steady growth in headcount.
The last 12 months has seen the team swell from 24 to 35, with a similar increase taking place next year, and within five years the Gateshead firm will have 100 employees.
However, business development director Phil Huddy said finding skilled workers sometimes proves a tough task.
Mr Huddy said: “The growth has been driven by increasing demand for our innovative patented Adsorption Media Tube Technology in the rail sector, where it’s installed for drying compressed air that’s used to operate braking systems, doors and pantographs (the roof-mounted apparatus on top of trains that collects power from overhead lines).
“There has also been demand for nitrogen gas generation units, for applications in the food packaging, chemical blanketing and laser cutting market sectors.
“The biggest problem we have in terms of filling roles is finding engineering staff, particularly design engineers.”
The expansion plans come after a visit from HRH The Duke of Kent, who took an early interest in the firm as it was starting out.
In 2010 the firm was helped by a £750,000 grant from the Royal Society Enterprise Fund and Business Angels’ John Clough and Dave Routledge to develop the technology.
Two years later it secured a further £150,000 through the Royal Society Enterprise Fund.
Managing director Mr Billiet said: “We were delighted that HRH The Duke of Kent took the time to visit.
“It was a real honour to demonstrate the progress we have made as a company since our first meeting with the Duke back in 2009 at the “Rags to Riches” business event, hosted by The Royal Society.
“The Duke was able to witness the successful commercialisation of our technology and to see how it’s making a real difference across a range of industry sectors, aiding productivity and business growth.”