Supporting growth in a Valais SME with potential
To support the potential for international-level growth of a young, Valais-based SME.
The period when an SME is growing is just as tricky as the launch of a start-up, and what is more, the financial issues are much more significant. This has been demonstrated by one of The Ark's projects, which was established in 2010 with Planet Horizons Technologies SA (PHT). This Sierre-based company began offering electromagnetic water-treatment products in 2004. Its ingenious system passes the water through a coil, and the effect of the magnetic field is used to treat the water. The system overcomes many water-related problems, in a way that is environmentally-friendly, chemical-free and does not produce any discharge. The company's products are now being applied in several different sectors (including animal husbandry, domestic and other buildings, irrigation, industry, and drinking water supply networks), with the international market accounting for over 50% of its sales.
Content of the project
Planet Horizons Technologies is a young, Valais-based company with strong potential for growth in a flourishing international market. The aim of the project, which was set up in 2010 in conjunction with The Ark Foundation, was to support the growth of this SME and to help it with the increase in capacity that was necessary for the company to grow.
From 2010, Planet Horizons Technologies had to deal with several challenges in order to be capable of maintaining its rate of growth:
- Finance, in particularly the availability of working capital;
- Developing competences in-house, involving the provision of training for new members of staff and, most importantly, distributors;
- Company organisation, or how to make the transition from the start-up team model to the manufacturing SME model;
- Business development (consolidation, new markets, distributors);
- Developing new applications (such as irrigation);
- Developing new products;
- Developing a supplier network.
These different challenges had to be dealt with at the same time and within the context of a consistent, carefully-constructed company and business strategy. The everyday problems had to be overcome quickly without losing sight of the long-term objectives and priorities.
The aim of the project, which lasted until 2013, was to provide guidance to the company in the overall aspects and to give practical support with operational issues.
New partners and distributors have been identified in several European countries, and other significant projects are under way with Planet Horizons Technologies. The company has carried out pilot projects in new fields – irrigation, for example, in countries such as Morocco, Israel and Turkey.
Progress has been made in developing a new solution to reduce the development of bacteria in water distribution networks, thanks to the funding received via a European Eurostars project. The Ark Foundation was able to support PHT in preparing its application for funding for this project.
In partnership with Mondema, a company based in Monthey, the manufacturing of pipes has been revised. New electronics were developed in 2012 and are now being mass-produced, the aim of this being to achieve economies of scale at product level.
Finally, with help from The Ark Foundation and western Switzerland's innovation network platinn, the entire organisation and all its processes have been analysed and formalised, with a view to growth, and the required improvements have been made. In 2012, the organisation and the management system were finalised, and in 2013, the company took advantage of the work that had been done by obtaining ISO 9001 certification.
All these stages have been completed with support from The Ark Foundation, which funded some of the measures, as well as advising the company when strategic decisions were taken.
Visit Planet Horizons Technologie's website here.