An Innovate UK-funded partnership with Leeds Beckett University has shaped the future success of Leeds-based ARC Building Solutions – implementing a New Product Development (NPD) department within ARC which has created, developed, and brought to market two new innovative building insulation and fire safety products.

ARC – a specialist manufacturer of cavity fire barriers and cavity closers, have collaborated with Leeds Beckett University over many years, developing the Retrofit Eaves Insulator (REI) – a product invented and patented by former Leeds Beckett University academics, Dr Matthew Brooke-Peat and Professor Christopher Gorse.

As part of a two-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) part-funded by Innovate UK, Leeds Beckett experts worked with ARC to establish the NPD department and further develop, test, and launch the REI in the marketplace. The project aimed to secure ARC’s place as a front-leader in the construction product manufacturing industry – and ensure that ARC has the in-house capabilities to repeat the success of the REI with further new inventions.

The REI allows homeowners to make their homes more energy efficient and cost effective by insulating the eaves – the junction between the external walls and roof – which can result in high rates of heat loss.  It is estimated around 7.7 million UK homes have been built using solid wall construction methods and could benefit from upgraded insulation using new innovation.

Advertisement

Dr Jim Parker, Reader in the Leeds Sustainability Institute (LSI) at Leeds Beckett University, said: “Delivering practical, applied research solutions is central to the LSI’s success – working with ARC on this KTP project was a natural progression for over a decade’s worth of in-depth investigations. The KTP has seen deep academic understanding of damp and mould growth at building junctions manifest in a real-world market-ready solution that can help to minimise cold-bridging in vulnerable spaces, in homes that are in the most need.”

The KTP has shifted ARC’s business model into the rapid development, design and manufacture of its own brand products. The company can now collaborate with industrial partners to solve challenges across the new build, retrofit, low-rise, high-rise, and insulation sectors.

The NPD team generated multiple new ideas and innovations during the KTP – including the TCB Square, which was successfully brought to market during the project. The TCB Square restricts the spread of smoke and flames within the internal wall cavity. The team are now preparing the new product for release in the market.

Dr Alex Boote was recruited as a full-time KTP Associate by Leeds Beckett for the duration of the KTP project – and has now been employed in the permanent role of Product and Innovation Manager at ARC. Alex was supported by Dr Kate Morland in the practical delivery of the project, which was led for Leeds Beckett by Dr Jim Parker.

Neil Weeks, CEO of ARC, said: “Working with LBU and Dr Alex Boote has been instrumental in implementing our new product development process. The new process uses a cutting-edge approach and means we can involve everybody within the business at the right time and with the right information.

“The KTP has been a brilliant process to bring academic thinking into the commercial world with great success. We now look forward to planning another KTP with LBU and building on the progress we have made so far.”

Dr Parker added: “The launch of the in-house NPD is estimated to bring substantial financial growth for ARC. They now have full ownership of the entire lifecycle from start to finish, making their supply chain position significantly stronger.”

A team of Leeds Beckett University marketing students supported Dr Alex Boote in the market analysis, brand awareness and promotional campaigns for the REI. Two of the marketing students have now been recruited as KTP Associates, leading their own Management KTPs for Leeds Beckett.

Advertisement