Smart technology invented in Malvern going global after DIT support

A Worcestershire company that has developed the world’s first smart technology electric actuator to control industrial valves has officially launched its unique product and already has a full order booked for 2017.

Malvern-based Smart Actuator Company, producer of the energy efficient smart technology electric actuator, returned to Valve World in Dusseldorf in December to launch the product and two other models.

SmartAct Roger Stark, Jerry Brown, Tony O’Donnell, Frank Schiere

From left: Roger Stark, Jerry Brown, Tony O’Donnell, Frank Shiere

Tonya O’Donnell, director of management services at the family-run business based at Advantage Business Park, singled out the support from the Department for International Trade (DIT) for enabling it to reach international markets so quickly.

International trade advisers based in Hereford and Worcester have worked closely with the company over the past six years, introducing it to the relevant industry experts, setting up meetings and undertaking market research.

Tonya, her brother James O’Donnell, who invented the product, and their father Tony, who is company chairman, have also attended DIT events where they have discussed potential opportunities with export advisers from across the globe.

Christine Hamilton, deputy regional director of DIT West Midlands, said: “To be an integral part of a company’s global growth is fantastic news for everyone concerned and demonstrates how our international trade advisers can make a real difference to a company that sets its sights on overseas markets.

“From the smallest beginnings, SmartAct is now a leading company in its field, is expanding its business premises and looking to take on more staff. It’s just the start of its export journey, too, so we expect it will achieve greater innovations.”

It has taken six years and more than £2.5 million in research and development to perfect the smart actuator that relies on SmartAct’s Rift technology, which combines several small motors around a central shaft to reproduce the power of a single large motor at a fraction of the cost.

Since it was brought to market earlier this year, the company’s order book for next year is already looking healthy, with orders from the Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, India and Germany.

Tonya added: “We’ve worked with DIT since the beginning but particularly in the last three years and getting our product out into the global market wouldn’t have happened without its support. Before the company was set up, James was a computer engineer and we had no knowledge of the engineering and manufacturing sector, so every introduction has been invaluable.

“Going back to ValveWorld last month was incredible; we had unbelievable feedback from visitors and we’ll be following up all the leads over the next few months.”

The company has grown from three full-time staff to 16 and it is already planning to add to its team with four apprentices and two production staff this year.

The Exporting is GREAT initiative is a key element of the Government’s newly launched great.gov.uk, a single digital destination for trade and investment, bringing together and connecting UK businesses, international buyers and international investors.