A young entrepreneur from Dorset is taking the flood defence market by storm with his unique flood defence system, which is now to be exported to the USA.
Simon Phelps (32) designed, developed and patented the flood defence barrier, Floodstop, in 2006, during his final year at Bournemouth University. The product is manufactured and exported via his company Fluvial Innovations Ltd, of which the University remain a shareholder.
Floodstop was designed to fill a gap within the market for a functional and rapidly deployable flood barrier and is already successful in use throughout the UK and parts of Europe.
The unique, patented, design works by filling with the rising flood water. This combined with weighted connections means that an assembled barrier will always be denser than the flood water.
The business has grown on average 25 per cent year on year since launch and over the last year Fluvial Innovations has seen a sales growth of 40 per cent. Floodstop was also named Most Innovative Product of The Year 2009 at the Emergency Planners Society’s Awards and was a Winner of Climate Week in the Best Climate Ready Initiative 2013.
As well as building a strong presence in the UK, Simon credits his success in launching Floodstop overseas to the support he received from the Department for International Trade.
After an initial launch to the UK market in which he was supported by Bournemouth University, Simon approached the DIT in 2008 for advice on how to begin exporting Floodstop.
Through the DIT Simon and his team were given access to experts in international business, opportunities for peer learning and networking, training and education in international business and support in the creation of an export strategy, including market screening.
Simon also took part in two DIT led visits, to the USA and Australia, to research markets, make contacts and develop markets.
Floodstop has been enthusiastically received in the USA and Fluvial Innovations Ltd began exporting to distributors in 2010. However, it soon became clear that direct export to the USA was not the most efficient way of servicing this market.
Floodstop is now manufactured under licence in the USA, where demand for the product continues to grow.
The product continues to be manufactured in the UK for distribution to the domestic market and export to France, Austria and Poland where Floodstop is used as the primary flood defence for large assets including the Warsaw Underground. It is also distributed in Australia.
Throughout their journey to export the company has received support from a dedicated DIT International Trade Adviser who has been on hand to provide advice and guidance as the business has grown.
Simon Phelps, Founder and Director, Fluvial Innovations said: “I could not be more delighted with the support that I’ve received from DIT, from helping me develop the skills I needed to create an export strategy, through the research stage and finally managing the day to day realities of being an export business – they have been on hand every step of the way.
“We continue to work closely with the team at DIT to look for new opportunities for export, for example we are currently investigating routes into the German market. We are a small company, but with the help of DIT, have been able to reach out to markets that just wouldn’t have been open to us on our own. It’s been an invaluable resource and support.”
Nigel Crowe, International Trade Adviser, DIT said: “We are delighted to have been able to support Simon and play a part in the growth and development of this innovative young company.
“What has impressed us the most however is the way that Simon and the team have made the most of every opportunity put their way. We are looking forward to continuing to work with them and playing a part in their future success.
The FLOODSTOP system offers numerous benefits over alternative flood protection systems including ease of assembly – 180 metres of the equipment can be deployed in just 90 minutes, they do not need to be bolted to the ground and can be set up by one or two people. They are robust and vandal-proof.
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