New NI start-up spins out of NISP Springboard programme

3 Feb 2012

Andrew Walmsely, CEO, Thermblow, pictured with Joanne Jennings, programme manager, NISP CONNECT. Thermblow has just graduated from the NISP CONNECT Springboard programme

Northern Ireland start-up Thermblow, a spin-out of the Polymer Research Cluster at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), has become the latest graduate from the NISP CONNECT Springboard Programme. The new venture is an environmental consultancy that will focus on the plastic packaging manufacturing marketplace.

Thermblow has just emerged from the Springboard programme at Northern Ireland Science Park. (NISP), which is based in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast City. The Springboard programme started last September as a means of helping new ventures in the life sciences, clean-tech, high-tech and digital media and software sectors grow their business portfolios by tapping into free mentoring and getting strategic business planning advice.

Springboard currently has 25 companies engaged in its programme at NISP.

Via the programme, successful entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland and industry experts in the IT, corporate law and start-up space are volunteering their time to help steer the new ventures in the right direction, according to Joanne Jennings, programme manager for Springboard.

At the end of their incubation phase at Springboard, which lasts for 6-12 weeks, the start-ups then pitch their business plans and strategies to the Springboard panel, which also includes venture capitalists.

Clean-tech focus

But back to Thermblow. The start-up is focusing its attentions on the plastic packaging marketplace market, which is estimated to be worth more than US$100bn globally right now.

CEO Andrew Walmsley said the company will aim to help plastics manufacturers meet their environmental obligations by advising them on switching to recyclable plastics.

He said Thermblow tapped into software developed at QUB and has created a service that it hopes will enable global companies of all sizes to make significant savings in their raw material costs, as well as meeting their sustainability and environmental obligations in the process.

For 12 weeks, Thermblow worked with an experienced entrepreneur-in-residence at QUB, gleaning free coaching.

“The role of the Springboard programme is to constructively challenge your thinking and heroic assumptions by bringing together a diverse set of skilled and experienced people including potential customers,” explained Walmsley.

Aspiring entrepreneurs or people with ideas for a new tech venture should visit the NISP CONNECT website.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic