Edge Innovate, Yelo and Shnuggle among recipients of Queen's Awards for Enterprise

Managing director Darragh Cullen and staff of Edge Innovate in Dungannon receive the Queen's Award for Enterprise
Gary McDonald Business Editor

THREE Northern Ireland companies, between them employing close to 200 staff, are among an elite group of organisations to be recognised today as winners of the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise.

Running since 1966, the prestigious UK-wide awards recognise outstanding achievements in the fields of innovation, international trade, sustainable development and promoting opportunity through social mobility, with 201 businesses being honoured.

The trio of local winners, who all came in the international trade category, are Edge Innovate in Dungannon, Yelo in Carrickfergus and Shnuggle in Newtownards.

Each has been shown to demonstrate that their business had substantial growth in overseas earning and in commercial success through either outstanding achievement over three years or continuous achievement over six years.

The family-run Edge, established in 2008 and with a staff of 145, develops, manufactures, markets and exports sophisticated technologies for shredding, stacking, screening and sorting primary and secondary raw materials in production processes and recycling.

Overseas earnings grew by 68 per cent to £18 million during the last three years, with top markets including the United States, Australia, France, Canada and Japan.

Managing director Darragh Cullen said: "We're honoured and excited to have received the Queen's Award for Enterprise, the highest award available to us, and which is the result of years of dedication from a team of high performing people right across all our business functions.

"Their dedication and commitment is second to none. Every member of our team has been instrumental in developing a world class business delivering world class products and services right across the globe.

"Our distribution partners of which there are now many and in particular those who have worked so closely with us from the very beginning have been a huge part of our successful story and the winning of this coveted award. This story is only beginning, however. We seek to further improve, expand and fulfil the needs of our people and our customers”.

Edge Innovate currently exports both material handling and recycling equipment to 60 countries and has experienced exceptional growth, with exports rising from 85 per cent in 2016 to 93 per cent in 2017.

Indeed to meet rising demand for its products, Edge recently announced an investment of £8 million to expand its production and office facilities and build a new factory which doubles floorspace. The investment led to the creation of 80 additional staff.

Yelo, founded as Systems Solutions in 1983 by Richard Furey and Alan Watts, designs and builds automated test equipment for a prestigious base of international clients in the photonics and electronics sectors.

It operates from a modern 25,000 sq ft facility which it opened two years ago as part of a £2 million investment.

It has a team of 40 including electronic and mechanical design engineers, software developers, sales and marketing staff and project managers.

In the last three years its overseas sales have surged by 138 per cent to markets including China, Israel, Thailand, North America and Europe.

The other Queen's Award winner was Shnuggle, which has grown to become an increasing force in innovative baby products market.

Employing seven staff at Sketrick House in Newtownards, it was founded by Sinead and Adam Murphy, born from an idea developed at the dining table in 2009.

Shnuggle took on private investment in 2013 which enabled the owners to work full time on the business, and by 2015 major retailers were stocking its bath and the company was exporting to more than 20 countries.

It now has a growing portfolio of products in the sleep-time, bath-time and changing categories, including the multi-award winning Shnuggle Bath.

Exports have more than quadrupled over the last three years with a commensurate growth in profits, and Shnuggle is market leader in South Korea and has sales across Europe, the Americas and Asia.

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