- Thomas Lyte: Luxury silver and leather goods firm Thomas Lyte traces its history back to 1995 when it was formed under the name of Phoenix Luxury. It now owns and manages the largest fine-silver workshop in London, hand-making trophies, awards and medals. Every year the FA cup comes here to be repaired and restored before being handed over to the winning team. Thomas Lyte also owns a leather workshop in the capital, where it crafts bags and wallets, and runs its own apprenticeship scheme. The company opened a flagship retail store in Mayfair last year. Turnover is currently £5m and the company has ambitions to become a £30m business and to open a shop in China.
- Peratech: North Yorshire-based nanotech firm Peratech has created and patented a completely new class of material called Quantum Tunnelling Composite (QTC), which allows a current to flow only when force is applied (and the greater the force, the stronger the current). It can be used to build waterproof, touch-sensitive sensors as thin as 100 microns – the width of two human hairs. The commercial applications for this “stuff” range from mobile phones – Peratech has signed licensing deals with Samsung and Nissha Printing to make pressure-sensitive screens and navigation keys, which scroll faster when pressed harder – to robotic “fingertips”. This £1.5m-turnover firm employs 25 people and works closely with the University of Durham. An excellent example of British innovation.
- PhotonStar LED: Founded in 2007, PhotonStar’s mission is to create a world-class solid-state lighting company by making energy-efficient, longest-life LED lighting products. In May, PhotonStar acquired Camtronics, a Wales-based specialist contract assembly company, to expand its manufacturing base. Sales will jump from £1.9m in 2010 to £7m this year. The company has 11 patents and employs 38 people. Analysts’ forecasts reckon LED sources will account for more than 70 per cent of the $100bn general lighting market by 2020. PhotonStar’s future looks bright.
- Protomed: Protomed’s proudly British innovations – Biodose and BeMAR – are helping to tackle the widespread, potentially fatal, effect of drug errors in hospitals and care homes. This Cheshire-based company uses UK talent to execute 99 per cent of its manufacturing and design; and its supply chain includes packaging, labelling, IT and moulding companies in York, Oldham, Southampton, Northampton, East Anglia and Scotland. Specialist drug manufacturer Quantum Pharmaceutical invested £1.5m for a 20 per cent stake in Protomed last year, valuing the firm at £7.5m. It employs 25 people.
- Aviramp: Graham Corfield’s aluminium company, Ra’alloy Ramps, has designed, patented and built a mobile ramp for transporting passengers on and off planes via one main walkway. These Aviramps retail between £17,400-£45,000 and are powered with a hydraulic motor or solar power drive. Supporters include the Manufacturing Advisory Service and EasyJet, which trialled the ramps at Bristol International Airport. The company expects orders of £4m-£5m over the next 12-18 months.
- Burt’s Potato Chips: Founded in 1997, Burts Chips is one of the UK’s best-loved crisp brands. Two packets of Burts Crisps are sold every second – an impressive feat for a company that started life in a shed on some railway sidings in Devon. Committed to creating high quality, great tasting crisps, Burts uses natural and, where possible, locally sourced ingredients to create its range of traditional flavours. Its Smokey Bacon range, for example, uses dry cured bacon from Denhays Farms in Dorset. Each crisp is hand fried using artisan methods of cooking and is then carefully and evenly seasoned to ensure ultimate taste. Turnover reached £8m last year and is on track to grow 60 per cent this year. The company employs 81 people and its British snacks are listed in 28 countries.
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