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31 March, 2010 - 11:29 By Staff Reporter

F1 supplier eyes new markets

John Harris of Nevo Developments

An Australian entrepreneur is steering his Papworth-based company towards further growth after securing a grant from the East of England Development Agency to explore taking its technology to additional markets.

 

Nevo Developments starred in last weekend’s F1 Australian Grand Prix, having supplied several teams on the starting grid with its technology.The company, formed by John Harris back in 2005, manufactures a novel variable ratio ‘rack and pinion’ steering system, which gives racing drivers greater control of their car into high-speed corners – a vital component for any F1 driver turning at speeds of over 200mph.In a sport where the difference between competitors’ lap times can be just a thousandth of a second, Nevo’s technology gives drivers that extra stability into corners, saving them the time which could mark the difference between finishing first or second. Nevo’s technology is a high specification, luxury item which only the top teams in the sport have the budgets to install as they strive for perfection and world titles. Although supply chains for the F1 industry are shrouded in secrecy, John Harris said that Nevo-supplied cars have had a “very satisfying start to the season.”The company has just secured a £17,700 grant from EEDA to explore the possibilities of taking their technology to alternative markets.“At the moment, the demand for Nevo’s products from F1 is extremely seasonal,” says Harris. “The F1 industry is also not immune to the adverse effects of an economic downturn. “New rules are limiting team’s expenditure and we’ve seen established names drop out of the sport altogether.“As an ambitious, organically-growing company, we have to plan for future growth, make contingency plans if the F1 industry continues to rein in its spending and diversify into new market sectors.“We always knew that our technology could be applied to other high-performance vehicles. But as a small business, it’s difficult to know whether your product will be accepted by potential new clients, which makes it a risky step to take.“EEDA’s Proof of Market grant will be instrumental in helping us to crack new markets and take away some of that risk. It will help us to identify the scale of opportunity and how we will need to hone our technology to make it irresistible to prospective clients.”Since EEDA introduced Proof of Market (formerly Proof of Concept) funding in 2006, 230 projects have shared a total of over £4.7 million. In and around Cambridge, everything from next generation wind turbine technology to super-conducting magnets have received funding to take them to the next stage of development.• Entrepreneurs with a bright business idea have until 5pm on Friday, April 23 to submit their application for EEDA’s latest Proof of Market funding round via the website at: www.eeda.org.uk/finance

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