UK can flourish outside EU – says firm given 772,000-euro grant

By WILLIAM TELFORD, Business Editor


INNOVATORS: Mike Pitt, left, and Adam Liardet, right, of Audex


A Plymouth digital technology firm has received 772,000 euros from the European Union to develop high-tech security scanners – and says the UK can still flourish outside the EU.

Stonehouse-based Audax Mobile Security Solutions, famous for its head-cam technology, is one of 30 firms handed grants under the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme to fund research and innovation.

It will add its own cash to the grant to fund a 1.1million-euro project to develop scanning systems that can be used to check people, baggage and vehicles at ports and airports.

It says the venture will create jobs, including five in Plymouth.

And despite the bulk of the cash coming from the EU, Audax said such grants will still be available to UK firms once Britain has left the union.

And with Audax planning to manufacture the finished product in Europe, bosses says that won’t pose particular problems even when the UK is a non-EU nation.

“There is no barrier put on this via our exit from the EU,” said Adam Liardet (below right), who runs the firm with business partner Mike Pitt (below left).

 He explained the Horizon 2020 programme was open to firms from countries outside the EU too, as long as their governments pub money into the project.

Some of the cash going to Audax will have come from the UK originally.

Audax was chosen on its merits as one of 30 firms to received grants from 1,500 applications.

“I’m very grateful to the EU and the Commission,” Mr Liardet said. “But security crosses boundaries and it does not make any difference whether we are in the EU (flag shown below) or out.

 “And Europe needs us as a market, trade makes the world go around and that will still continue.

“I don’t see any tariffs becoming obstructive to the UK.”

He said the grant was preferable to seeking a bank loan or venture capital.

“This is not a loan and we didn’t have to sign over ownership of the country, so it’s a huge win-win for us,” he said, stressing the funding will also provide a return for the EU as it will benefit from job creation and enhanced security.

Although the new scanner project is for two years, Audax plans to pilot demos and carry out market testing in 2017.

“It’s a new product we are developing that is going to assist the throughput and scanning of people, bags, and vehicles at ports and airports,” Mr Liardet said.

“It’s to protect urban soft targets and urban critical infrastructure.

“It’s based on our body-worn head cameras. It will allow things like the possibility of passport scanning and identification of people.

“This grant will help us to do R&D. We are using companies based throughout Europe.

“The development will be done in Europe, and manufacture of the finished product will be done in Europe.

“That’s unusual, the majority of our competitors manufacture in China, but in Europe you are more in control of quality and security.

“Products are copied too easily in China.”

Audax is one of the UK’s leading digital evidence-gathering technology firms.

It was set up in 2003 by Mr Liardet, a former soldier, and Mr Pitt, formerly in the Royal Navy.

 Its body-worn video technology (an example is shown above) is manufactured abroad, to Home Office standards, and sold internationally, including to several UK local authorities and even hospitals. Footage recorded is admissible in UK courts.




Mr Liardet said the firm is “going great guns”, with good sales in countries such as Germany, Belgium, Malta and Gibraltar, in addition to the UK, where Audax sells to the NHS, local authorities, security firms and in the ENTE (evening and nighttime economy).

“There is growing demand,” he said. “We are punching above our weight. We led the way in 2006 and yet again we are leading the way with cutting-edge products.”

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