Vitra Ireland Ltd
Who was involved?
A UK – Irish Exchange
A Graduate Student from Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC), Lancaster University, UK, carried out a five week industry placement with Irish company VitrA. Business development managers (BDM) in LEC and University College Dublin, introduced Francis Truman from Lancaster University to VitrA Ireland Ltd. The BDM’s supported Francis whilst he carried out his placement as a Graduate consultant and this contributed to part of his Master’s degree programme Environmental Management and Consultancy.
Who are VitrA Ireland Ltd?
What did the Student do?
VitrA Ireland is an Irish company based in County Wicklow and is a subsidiary of Eczacıbaşı Holding. VitrA are predominately involved in manufacturing ceramic and wall tiles for both domestic and industrial use. An innovative company, VitrA had recently developed a new photo-catalytic tile able to destroy a range pathogens when in contact with the surface glaze, this product could be implemented in a healthcare environment to help reduce the spread of infections. The company were keen to explore what the potential uptake if this product might be for the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK. VitrA therefore asked Francis to conduct market research into the best route for introducing the product into the healthcare market in the UK. Francis visited VitrA in Ireland at the beginning of the placement to agree upon aims and strategy of the project, then carried out the research remotely from the UK delivering the final report to VitrA at the end of the 5 weeks.
Francis Truman talking about his student placement
Impact & Outcomes
After analysis of the market and contacting a number of professionals within the NHS, Francis was able to make a number of recommendations to VitrA with regards to introducing the photo-catalytic tile into the UK health service and it’s environmental benefits. This included advice on best routes to market, suggested technology trails to make the product more marketable and highlighted a niche market in which the product could be adapted and potentially become very profitable. The advantages of such a transnational student placement to the company are clear. The student make a number of recommendations to improve the products marketability and by being from the UK, was able to take advantage of local networks and knowledge of legislation. For the student “a transnational student project is more challenging, interesting and provides more opportunities – it’s certainly eye opening to the international market. Having to complete the project in 5 weeks gives you great experience in working to a tight timescale in addition to teaching you to negotiate your role with the company so it’s feasible to complete within the deadline. I would definitely recommend an international placement to others, it’s been a great experience” – Francis Truman.