Case study: Christine Boyle

The next generation of solar thermal energy panels have the potential to transform solar power into a more affordable, reliable and accessible option for water heating. Senergy are manufacturing smart solar panels using advanced nanocomposite plastics. Senergy CEO Christine Boyle has the support of the SME Leaders programme to achieve this vision.

Receiving the award at an early stage in the company’s development has proven to be particularly beneficial: “The support came at a significant stage in our research and development,” Christine notes. “It gave me more confidence in taking my idea from a concept to a prototype with value.”

SenergyBy using polymer plastics, Senergy have crafted solar thermal panels that are 50% cheaper to install than metallic alternatives. The company has drawn on Christine’s previous experience in commercial roofing to create a product that can be easily integrated in the construction process.

The product offers clear benefits to the renewable energy sector and identifying the right opportunities to pursue was a challenge.

“Scaling up is complex,” Christine explains. “The SME Leaders training helped with negotiating this process. It was led by experts with significant industry experience and filled with thought-provoking, real-life examples. These insights have shown me how important it is to develop resilience when dealing with the inevitable challenges and failures associated with starting a new business.”

Christine Boyle resizedThe programme has also facilitated access to networks and provided the support of a mentor who Christine has described as “able to strike the right balance between support and challenge”. Both the networks and mentoring have been a useful resource as the company concludes work on the pilot build for a demonstrator site in Belfast, with plans underway for others in Wales, London and the US.

“In construction we often talk about the importance of solid foundations and the same is true for starting a company,” Christine says. “With the support of the SME Leaders Programme, I developed my skills as a leader and strengthened my team. This has enabled us to build a working prototype, an early demonstrator site and work towards getting our first customers.”