From education to employment

SERC help local company innovate

In a bid to boost its competitiveness and product range, a local manufacturing company has joined forces with their Further Education College.

South Eastern Regional College (SERC) has created an educational partnership with family run barbeque manufacturer, Trailblazer, who have benefited from SERC’s engineering expertise thanks to the Innovate Us Employer Support programme funded by the Department for the Economy. 

The Innovate Us programme, which is offered across Northern Ireland through the FE Colleges, gives small businesses the opportunity to access funding and expertise for a range of business functions.

Trailblazer design, manufacture and distribute portable gas barbeque trailers across the world. Thanks to the programme the business has benefited from bespoke mentoring on a range of specialist software packages including On-Shape and SolidWorks. The business has also gained access to resources which have helped them undertake innovation activities, improve their business with new technologies and remain competitive in a global marketplace.

As a result of the programme Trailblazer now produce and amend drawings in-house much more efficiently, which has saved them a substantial amount of time and money. SERC also upskilled staff in sophisticated software applications and implemented the software in house.

Working alongside the Dundonald based company, SERC provided mentoring to enable them to produce comprehensive 3D Computer Aided Design drawings for their range of bespoke trailers. The comprehensive drawings are currently being used by the company and will act as a blue print for further builds.

Trailblazer director Lester Manly commented: This was a fantastic opportunity for the business to gain training from a qualified professional at no cost to us.  In the current economic environment this programme has helped us achieve a much higher skill level without having to invest anything other than the time and effort of our highly motivated staff. We are already reaping the benefits as the plans secure immediate client buy-in to the designs, whilst saving development time and reducing costs across the business. 

“Working with SERC has helped us shorten our turnaround, allowing us to focus on driving sales. We are delighted with the outcome of the partnership and would encourage other businesses to talk to their local college when developing their products.”

SERC head of business services Elaine Flynn explains “​SERC recognises that innovative product ideas are an important part of growing the local economy and we recognise that not all companies have the capital to invest in equipment. By enabling companies’ access to equipment and expertise at the College we can help local businesses fast-track their ideas to product creation and production. This initiative has made it possible for many SMEs and micro-businesses to access expertise and innovation know-how for the first time.”

To find out how your business can get results from SERC please visit or call 0345 600 7555.

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