Enterprise Europe Network

Scoring across the board

Electronic messaging boards can display information in increasingly sophisticated ways while saving energy. An Estonian high-tech company recently set up a research consortium to develop outdoor electronic message board applications, and thanks to the Enterprise Europe Network found a partner in Northern Ireland with hands-on experience in sports scoreboards.

The Network offers support and advice to businesses and universities on research opportunities in the EU. The head of Visitret Displays in Tartu, Estonia, contacted Juhan Jüriado of Invent Baltics, the Network partner organisation in Tallinn, to help him write a proposal for research funding from the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), which ran from 2007 to 2013. A first proposal had been turned down and he wanted to try again.

"Visitret Displays were looking for an end-user partner to test the applications," says Jüriado. They already had two such partners on their team - an Italian and a Swedish company. Thanks to a rapid reaction from Debbie Vance of the Network's Belfast partner Invest Northern Ireland, their choice settled on FSL Electronics in Cookstown, Northern Ireland. FSL make electronic scoreboards for sports, from football to cricket and hockey. Debbie Vance helped them get involved.

With a strong team now in place to test their products, the researchers from Estonia produced a revised proposal with help from Invent Baltics and Invest Northern Ireland, and this time they scored. "Invent Baltics helped us find a new partner, but above all they helped us improve our original proposal," says Madis-Marius Vahtre, CEO of Visitret Displays. "If the outcome is good," says John Meenan, FSL Electronics' CEO, "then we'll have low-energy solar-powered messaging boards with all kinds of benefits for the industry."