AN innovative Great Broughton firm hopes to take prototype wallpaper cutting-equipment into production, with help from a £10,000 business award.

Pembroke McIntyre Associates successfully applied for a Government-funded Smart Award, an award designed to get good ideas off the drawing board and into the marketplace.

Company spokesman Dr Sara McIntyre said the money helped fund research, development, staff and travel costs associated with marketing the prototype. "It's made a real difference," she emphasised.

She said the equipment gave professional results quickly, easily and safely. Varying lengths of wet or dry wallpaper could be cut, as could awkward shapes.

The company was formed last year, providing consultancy services for public and private clients. Dr McIntyre previously worked for ICI and Air Products.

Now she is investigating patents, licensing agreements, and searching for manufacturers to make the equipment. The actual prototype was invented by another former ICI employee, Terry Greenwood, who is based near Blackpool.

Describing the equipment, Dr McIntyre said: "It's a very simple system. If you were to look at the prototype, you'd think 'is that it?' But the design is critical. It uses a rotary blade, rather like a pizza-cutter, with runs over a groove in a table or some other surface.

"Wallpaper is placed over the groove and cut, creating an absolutely straight line without the need for a sharp blade. It was much easier than the traditional technique of measuring, creasing and cutting. It's almost like child's play," she said.

"We now want to arrange a licensing agreement with a manufacturer. I'm talking to a couple of firms at the moment, the closest of which is at Sheffield. I'm afraid I don't know of any North-East companies that may be interested."

Nonetheless, she thought there were plenty of other pioneering ideas coming from the Stokesley area. A number of companies had benefited from previous Smart Awards and there was "a nice little micro-climate of innovation".

* Pembroke McIntyre is one of three North Yorkshire firms to succeed in the latest round of awards. The others are Silvertip Design, at Skeeby, near Richmond, and Revolution Software in York (as reported in the D&S Times, June 7)