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Rotherham inventor set for worldwide success with water recycling product

Melport Plastics 4 small

Melvyn Davenport, a talented plastic injection moulding specialist, has embarked on an exciting business venture to develop a rainwater harvesting product, with support from RiDO's Soft Landing Zone.

Melvyn, who has recently established Melport Plastics which is based in a 14,000 sq ft unit in Dinnington, has been able to take advantage of an ERDF funded project called 'Growth and Prosperity in Rotherham (Soft Landing Zone)' which is run by RiDO (Rotherham Investment & Development Office). As an SME based in Rotherham, Melport Plastics is eligible to access a mentor to help explore and develop international opportunities.

Melvyn has spent 30 years in the plastic industry, as an injection mould tool maker. A keen gardener, he recognised the issues that people face when hosepipe bans are in place in the summer, with the risk of fines of £1,000 if people use a hosepipe to water their garden or wash their car. He was also very aware of the water shortage here in the UK and in many countries around the world. Melvyn therefore put his expertise in plastics into play and designed an innovative T-shaped injection moulded component which can be retrofitted to any domestic or commercial guttering system.

Melvyn's new 'WatFlow' product has undergone in-depth trials by Sheffield Hallam University, with great results and he has now applied for six worldwide patents. Watflow's two major benefits are that it filters water before it is deposited into a water butt and it features an automatic overflow that means when the butt is full, any excess water is returned through the same method to the external drainage system. The beauty of the system is that it can be installed by a competent DIY-er, rather than needing a plumber to fit it.

Melvyn recently won a grant of £5k from the Government's Department of Business Innovation and Skills (check) which he has used to pay for securing the international patents and for Sheffield Hallam University to carry out work to produce a prototype using its innovative FDM (Fused Deposition Modelling) technology.

Melvyn has received support from Nathan Woodcock, business development co-ordinator who has recently been appointed by RiDO's Soft Landing Zone. Nathan started his career in engineering and has also ran his own computer design business, so has personal experience of what it means to get a new company started.

Nathan Woodcock, business development co-ordinator for RiDO, said: "Every household could be a customer for the Watflow system and it has huge potential both in the UK and overseas. I carried out in-depth research into the route to market through garden centres, builders and plumbers merchants both here in the UK and in three other countries with chronic water shortage problems – South Africa, Egypt and India. This meant we were able to provide Melvyn with relevant contacts for suitable retail outlets for his product and with business support organisations and associations that could help him in these countries. This has given Melvyn a firm basis for building his business and we are very excited about how his invention could take off across the world."

Melvyn Daveport adds: "I've had some great support from RiDO and with Nathan's help I have been able to identify new markets overseas. Nathan has carried out lots of research, which I simply would not have had the time or contacts to do. I am very excited to be almost at the stage when I can begin production, as Watflow can save an average household or business up to 75% off their water bills. Our message to people is 'Don't pour your money down the drain' as people need to be aware of just how much they could save by rainwater harvesting."

Melvyn is working with Sheffield Hallam University on further developments which include adding a pump to the device to enable rainwater to be used to flush toilets. He is also working with the University on integrating a purification device within the system to enable the diverted water to be suitable for drinking – which has huge potential in third world countries.

The Growth and Prosperity in Rotherham (Soft Landing Zone) project aims to assist Rotherham companies in accessing international markets and also helps foreign inward investors who choose to locate to RiDO's business centres. The project is supported financially by the European Union. It has attracted £842k investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe's support for the region's economic development through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme 2007-13.

For more details about the Soft Landing Zone project, which is run by RiDO, visit the website www.ridobusinesscentres.co.uk.







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