Located in Hinckley, Leicestershire, Vitesse Global Ltd provides specialist engine, gearbox and ancillary components to the niche automotive sector.
Keen to expand its offer to customers, Vitesse identified a gap in the market whereby several British sports car manufacturers did not offer automatic gearboxes to buyers. This limited sales in markets with traditionally higher usage of automatic gearboxes, for example China, the USA and the Middle East.
Morgan Motor Company was keen to work with Vitesse to produce an automatic gearbox, enabling it to unlock sales in new markets. However, this required significant mechanic design work and software development to enable production. Vitesse wanted to support Morgan, but did not have sufficient funding to enable them to launch the project. This led Vitesse to apply to the University of Derby's Invest to Grow programme, with the business subsequently accessing funding of £97,650 in January 2016.
“We saw there was a market, and we knew there was a demand, but we did not have sufficient investment capacity on our own. We saw Invest to Grow as the stepping stone, providing us with the time and input required to deliver the product.”
The Invest to Grow funding was used to enable a range of Research and Development (R&D) activities related to the partnership with Morgan, including: purchasing a test-bed vehicle; undertaking Computer Aided Design (CAD) work; adapting components; developing software; integrating the Gearbox control unit (GCU); and testing the new components. This ultimately led to the development of the final product.
“The funding enabled the business to get the concept to fruition, to develop a working prototype, and ultimately to production.”
Having successfully completed the project, Vitesse launched an advertising campaign with Morgan press. This, combined with direct contact with the dealer network, led to sales in Dubai, France and the UK, with an order currently being manufactured for a customer in New Zealand and repeat orders from the Dubai customer. Based on the success of the Invest to Grow project, Vitesse is also engaged with a Chinese car dealer which is keen to explore production training opportunities to enable its staff to install the gearboxes in China.
As a result of the Invest to Grow funding, Vitesse Global has to date employed three additional members of staff, with the prospect for many more as orders continue to rise. These staff have increased the business’ capacity for innovation and R&D, for example it can now offer in-house CAD services. Refined processes and manufacturing practices required for this program have also led to Vitesse Global Ltd being awarded ISO 9001:2015 quality accreditation. Managing Director of Vitesse Global Ltd, Tim Henderson, described how the business is now keen to explore opportunities to take on University of Derby graduates, either through placements or full-time employment. He noted the importance of employing individuals educated in the latest technology.
The new product, enabled through Invest to Grow funding, has led to commercial engagement with new geographical markets. This has acted as a spring board for other opportunities. For example, Vitesse has received requests to assist with other R&D programmes due to the successful delivery of this project. Further to this, it has also strengthened relationships with existing customers.
“This project has illustrated that we are a proactive and forward thinking company, and has attracted other companies to seek partnership opportunities.”
The Invest to Grow funding has led to increased turnover and profit for the Vitesse Global. Both are set to increase as the number of orders for the automatic gearbox rise. Tim Henderson described how the project would not have occurred without the funding from Invest to Grow.
“Invest to Grow was a door opener, a stepping stone for us to become bigger and better; this has enabled us to look to the future and plan further. The support received from the programme team was seamless and I would absolutely recommend the programme to other businesses.”