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SERC helps one of Northern Ireland’s oldest companies innovate

In line with their commitment to supporting the local manufacturing industry, SERC has created an educational partnership with specialist engine re-manufacturer and supplier, O.D Cars, Belfast.

The family run business, who are shortly due to celebrate their centenary, joined forces with their Further Education College in a bid to boost its competitiveness and stimulate growth and have benefited from SERC's engineering expertise thanks to the Innovate Us Programme funded by the Department for the Economy. 

The Innovate Us programme, which is offered across Northern Ireland through the six FE Colleges, is a fully funded skills development programme which provides small businesses with the capacity to innovate across a range of business development activities.

O.D Cars specialise in a range of engine re-manufacturing including engine rebuilds, repair and restoration. Thanks to the programme the business has benefited from bespoke, one-to-one CNC techniques and computer aided design mentoring. The business has also gained access to resources which have helped them undertake innovation activities, improve their business with new technologies and remain competitive.

Founded in 1919, O.D Cars was originally formed to manufacture a luxury car to compete with Rolls Royce but was much easier to maintain. In its time, the company has invented and built numerous products such as the electric hare system for greyhound racing which is installed throughout the UK including Wimbledon and Wembley. During the war, the company was also licenced to build Rhone radial aircraft engines and C and C interrupter gear.

Charlie Nixon, O.D Cars Director commented: This was a fantastic opportunity for the business to gain training from a qualified professional at no cost to us.  In the current economic environment this programme has helped us achieve a much higher skill level without having to invest anything other than the time and effort of our staff. We are already reaping the benefits as the training has helped us enter new markets, design and manufacture new products and has raised the skill base of our engineers. 

“The fact that our mentor visited our premises, reduced downtime in the workshop whilst saving us a substantial amount of time and money. Without the Innovate Us programme, we would not have been able to avail of such bespoke mentoring. We are delighted with the outcome of the partnership and would encourage other businesses to talk to their local college."

Vanessa Bassnett xxx said: “As a small, thriving business we are always looking to the future and new ways to improve our services and the capabilities of the team. The training from SERC has helped us upskill our engineers which will contribute to the future growth of the company. I initially approached SERC to see what was available and before long we had signed-up to the mentoring. We were assigned a mentor who talked us through our ideas and gave us one-to-one bespoke advice.

“We are already in the process of completing more training with SERC to upskill our engineers in MIG and TIG welding. This will ensure that we continue to grow and that our engineers and technicians have the correct skills and knowledge to take advantage of new opportunities in the marketplace."

SERC head of business services Elaine Flynn explains " SERC recognises that innovative product ideas are an important part of growing the local economy and we recognise that not all companies have the capital to invest in equipment.  By enabling companies' access to expertise at the College we can help local businesses fast-track their ideas to product creation and production. I would encourage SME's to take advantage of the Innovate Us funding to up-skill their staff and I encourage all employers to contact their local provider about their training needs, since this is a real opportunity for their employees to gain new skills."

To find out how your business can get results from SERC please call Andrew Megarry on 077488 40691 or email Andrew at