3 Northern Ireland businesses invest £1m in green energy

Three Northern Ireland companies – Neo Environmental, Skylark Control and Knox Electrical – pioneer energy solutions with £1m in investment.

Three Northern Ireland companies are collectively investing over £1m in their businesses to support their growth in the renewables sector.

As the demand for Green Energy increases globally NEO Environmental, Knox Electrical and Skylark Control Ltd have seen increased demand for their services and are capitalising on opportunities.

“Growing the green economy is one of Invest NI’s eight key recovery drivers through which will stimulate Northern Ireland companies to progress towards Net Zero by investment in a green sustainable recovery”

The investments by the three companies will also see the creation of 14 new jobs. Invest NI has provided expert advice and guidance as well as offering over £123,000 of support towards 12 of the jobs, marketing and technical assistance.

Bolts from Ballymena

Knox Electrical, a long-established Ballymena electrical contractor is investing over £640,000 to help it expand further in the RoI market to deliver specialist HV installations for wind and solar farms.

Samuel Knox from Knox Electrical said: “We have been trading successfully for the last 15 years with a primary focus on the Northern Ireland market. We have recently commenced delivery of a number of projects on wind farms in northern Scotland and now the Republic of Ireland has launched a new framework for decarbonisation that signals strong investment in renewables. With this investment we will be able to tender for installations contracts in the ROI market, directly under the Knox Electrical brand.

“Thanks to Invest NI’s support we are creating seven new jobs in Ballymena. These roles include the recruitment of an experienced Operations Manager, who will take on the operational supervision of day-to-day onsite operations, allowing me to focus on growing and expanding the business.” 

NEO Environmental is a Scottish consultancy business, which is investing over £300,000 to expand its Ballymena operation.

Paul Neary from NEO Environmental said: “NEO Environmental is a multi-disciplinary environmental consultancy and we’ve been providing consultancy services to our customers for almost 10 years. We are creating five new jobs to support the recent demand for our business services in the renewables sector in the RoI market. To accommodate our growing workforce we have moved to larger premises in Ballymena, which gives us the space to keep growing in the future. Invest NI’s support to expand our team and for marketing activities is helping us drive sales growth and demand for our services, particularly in the South.”

Skylark Control is a high growth tech start-up based in Belfast and since participating on Invest NI’s Propel Programme in 2018, the company has received a range of Invest NI support. Its latest investment of over £70,000 will help it build on recent contracts secured in the UK, RoI and Asia markets and see it create two new jobs at its Belfast hub.

Ballymena native and Founder of Skylark David McMullan said: “As a result of extensive experience gained in the industry over the past couple of decades, our growing reputation, and local investment from Invest NI we have been able to secure new business in UK, Ireland and Asia.  Our operational control software platform enables wind farms and utility companies to streamline onsite repair and maintenance operations, demonstrate compliance for health and safety legislation, improve team performance and boost business profitability.

“When we founded Skylark Control, Invest NI’s Propel programme gave us a major platform and access to international tech experts and mentors who gave us the right knowledge at just the right time to help us move our business forward. The technical support also helped us to improve our software functionality and secure IP registration.  This new investment is helping us to focus on our marketing activities which will enable us to grow our share in the renewables sector in domestic and global markets and diversify into other sectors including oil, gas and construction.”

Green ambition

These investments are examples of local businesses capitalising on the global ambition to reduce carbon footprints through the use of green initiatives, said Kevin Holland, CEO of Invest Northern Ireland.

“It was a pleasure to meet with the CEOs leading these businesses this morning to hear about their plans to expand their reach in the renewables sector. Interestingly, each of these businesses is headed by someone from Ballymena.

“Invest NI recognises the increasing significance of the green economy as a key driver of growth and prosperity. In line with DfE’s Economic Recovery Action Plan, growing the green economy is one of Invest NI’s eight key recovery drivers through which will stimulate Northern Ireland companies to progress towards Net Zero by investment in a green sustainable recovery. High growth businesses like NEO Environmental, Knox Electrical and Skylark Control will play a pivotal role in this and in rebuilding our economy.

“The increased focus on investment in the energy sector and on rebuilding a greener economy in the future is great news for these companies.

“The likely switch to renewable technologies is set to offer numerous opportunities for local companies including the creation of new jobs, developing skills and encouraging local investment,” Holland added.

Main image at top: Pictured (L-R) are Paul Neary, Director, Neo Environmental with Kevin Holland, CEO, Invest NI; David McMullan, co-founder and Director, Skylark Control and Samuel Knox, Managing Director, Knox Electrical

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 19 May 2021

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