A Northern Ireland company has created ten jobs as it bids to become a major new force in the tourist industry providing high-end glamping pods at unspoilt locations throughout Ireland and Scotland.
Having vastly expanded their aluminium pod manufacturing, Intupod has just moved from its incubator space in the Innovation Factory, on the Springfield Road in West Belfast, into a 20,000sqft factory in Carryduff Business Park.
Intupod’s graduation from Innovation Factory demonstrates one of its key objectives, to nurture start-up companies by enabling them to expand and generate employment opportunities.
The idea for the pods came as a reaction to the 2015 Nepal earthquake. Peter Farquharson, founder of Habitat for Humanity in Northern Ireland, began researching the building of monolithic domes using rubble from the earthquake site.
Unfortunately, it soon became apparent that international diplomacy would scupper their efforts, so in 2016 he and commercial director David Maxwell began to look at new uses for their pod design.
Having spent £350,000 on research and development, they hit on the idea of creating the company Intupod, specialising in building accommodation pods for the British and Irish tourism and leisure market. With the support of Invest NI they began manufacturing and selling a number of pods to landowners in Donegal and Scotland.
In 2017 the business model changed significantly and, with investor backing, they went into partnership with landowners, gaining access to some of the most remote and beautiful sites.
This model allows farmers and landowners to create new revenue streams, giving the firm room to grow.
Peter said: “Our investors are strategic and hands on in the right way. We were very fortunate as they were able to bring their strategic and financial expertise to the company.”
“So far, we have engaged with over 40 land owners, with 10 projects in the planning process. We expect our first sites to be deployed early next year.”
David said: “The Innovation Factory allowed us to grow. It was a great space with great facilities and staff who would do anything for you. We took elements of the Innovation Factory environment and transferred it to our new premises, to give our guys a great place to work.”
Majella Barkley, innovation director at the Innovation Factory, said: “We are delighted that the support we provided has helped Intupod move into new premises that will see them go from strength to strength.”
Innovation Factory is owned by Belfast City Council and operated on their behalf by Oxford Innovation.