VitrA Ireland Ltd

Roof Tiles

The Organisation

VitrA Ireland is an Irish company based in County Wicklow and is a subsidiary of Eczacıbaşı Holding. VitrA are predominately involved in manufacturing ceramic and wall tiles for both domestic and industrial use.  

The Challenge 

An innovative company, VitrA had recently developed a new photo-catalytic tile able to destroy a range pathogens when in contact with the surface glaze. This product could be implemented in a healthcare environment to help reduce the spread of infections. The company were keen to explore what the potential uptake of this product might be in the UK National Health Service (NHS). 

Skills Sought

  • Market research
  • Market analysis

The Solution

Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) student, Francis Trueman, studying MA Environmental Management & Consultancy, was introduced to VitrA by business development managers from LEC and University College Dublin. The business development managers helped develop the initial scope of the project and supported James during his collaboration with Airinov.

VitrA asked Francis to conduct market research into the best route for introducing the product into the healthcare market in the UK. Francis visited VitrA in Ireland at the beginning of the placement to agree upon aims and strategy of the project, then carried out the research remotely from the UK, delivering the final report to VitrA at the end of the five weeks.


This transnational student placement was supported through KARIM.  KARIM, the Knowledge Acceleration and Responsible Innovation Meta-network, is a project funded by the European Union. The aim of this project was to build a network for SME’s, University partners and other 'innovation actors' across NW Europe and by so doing to help boost the competitiveness of innovative SME’s in this region.


After analysis of the market and contacting a number of professionals within the NHS, Francis was able to make a number of recommendations to VitrA with regards to introducing the photo-catalytic tile into the UK health service and its environmental benefits. These included ways to improve the product’s marketability, and by being from the UK, Francis was able to take advantage of local networks and knowledge of legislation to suggest the best routes to market. He suggested technology trails to make the product more marketable, and highlighted a niche market in which the product could be adapted and potentially become very profitable. 


To the Company

  • Report which highlighted ways to promote product to a new market
  • Better understanding of the UK market and competitors

To the Student

  • Gained an insight into a commercial business
  • Networking with stakeholders
  • Development of skills in a business environment
  • Insight into working across different markets 

Student Feedback

“A transnational student project is more challenging, interesting and provides more opportunities – it’s certainly eye opening to the international market. Having to complete the project in 5 weeks gives you great experience in working to a tight timescale in addition to teaching you to negotiate your role with the company. I would definitely recommend an international placement to others; it’s been a great experience.” Francis Truman, MA Environmental Management & Consultancy, Lancaster Environment Centre.