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Nualight was founded in 2004 by serial entrepreneur Liam Kelly and three others to develop LEDs – light emitting diodes – for use in the retail sector. Six years on, the company is growing rapidly and is one of the brightest prospects in Ireland’s buoyant technology sector.
“We design LED systems that light fridge and freezer display cases in retailers in the UK, Europe and the US,” says Paul Kelly, director of market development. “Tesco, the Co-Operative group and Sainsbury’s are customers and we have signed a deal with the display manufacturer Hussmann, which could be worth up to $100m.”
Nualight’s core LED technology builds on research undertaken at Ireland’s Tyndall National Institute in Cork, which has spun off scores of technology companies in recent years.
The company’s products produce energy savings for retailers of up to 60 per cent compared with standard fluorescent tube lighting.
LEDs last longer and give retailers the ability to change displays to suit customer moods and tastes, says Mr Kelly.
“It is not just the energy savings that attract customers. Our lighting products are used by retailers as merchandising tools to tap into people’s emotions and sell more,” he says.
Nualight has grown rapidly in the past few years by raising about €10m in funds from Climate Change Capital, ESB Novus Modus, 4th Level Ventures and the Quinn retail family in Ireland. It employs 200 people and forecasts revenue of €40m this year.
“Our business plan is to turn over €150m by 2014-15,” says Mr Kelly.
He says Ireland is a fantastic place to set up a technology business. “It has a young skilled population and good access to venture capital. Irish people are very good at marketing products to overseas customers,” he says.
Nualight exports most of its products, which means it can sidestep the Irish recession. It has built a powerful brand by focusing on a niche sector but is also looking to leverage its technology to enter different markets.
“We acquired a Dutch company last year that provides LED ceiling lighting, which it has installed at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. This opens new markets to us,” says Mr Kelly.