North East company reaps the benefits of University partnership
NYMAS, which is based in Billingham, manufactures bathroom and toilet equipment for elderly and disabled people for customers including care homes, hospitals and the hospitality industry.
Thanks to Innovate Tees Valley, a major business innovation initiative, NYMAS is working with the University’s Schools of Science & Engineering and Design, Culture & the Arts on two Knowledge Exchange Internships (KEIs) which will research ways in which NYMAS can streamline its systems and processes as well as developing new product designs and implementing new design processes.
The KEIs are part-funded by the innovation exchange strand of Innovate Tees Valley, the innovation supernetwork delivered in partnership with NEPIC, Materials Processing Institute (MPI), DigitalCity and Teesside University. Its aim is to help Tees Valley SMEs achieve growth through service and product innovation. Innovate Tees Valley is part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund. Two Teesside graduates have been working with NYMAS as part of the KEIs.
Dr Thanos Klonis completed his PhD in manufacturing management at Teesside in 2008, and is looking at how NYMAS can implement Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software into its business operations.
The project will help the company manage its data across all of its operations and investigate ways in which it can operate more efficiently and improve automation.
In addition, Lawrence Stratton, a BA (Hons) Product Design graduate, is working with the company on developing a range of new product designs and improving its design processes.
Dr Ruben Pinedo-Cuenca, Business Innovation Manager in the School of Science & Engineering, is supervising Dr Klonis’ project. He said: “It’s great to work with a company like NYMAS which is willing to explore new ways of doing things and wants to use the University to fill the gaps in its knowledge.
“This KEI will help embed a new culture of greater efficiency within the company and will be of enormous benefit.
“We’re also about to start doing an IP (intellectual property) review with NYMAS using the Innovate2Succeed programme to help them manage and protect their IP.”
Peter Reid, Enterprise Fellow in the School of Design, Culture & the Arts, who is supervising Lawrence’s KEI, added: “From an academic perspective I feel that it is vital that we engage with business.
“The experience and knowledge that we glean from working on KEI projects is passed back to our students and at the same time we’re able to help companies like NYMAS grow and flourish.”
Craig Anderson, NYMAS’ Managing Director, said: “The demographics of the population are changing and we’re seeing a lot more multi-generational homes with an increased need for specialist products to ensure their bathrooms are fully inclusive.
“As a company, in order to meet the demands of this new market, we need to function as efficiently as we can and we need our product to be more than purely functional but also have a quality design aesthetic.
“Working with Teesside University and Thanos and Lawrence is helping us to achieve this and we’re looking forward to the benefits it will bring.”
The Innovate Tees Valley project has received up to £3.8million of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.