Aigis might be frustrated in its attempts to sell to its domestic market but it is not alone, according to Steve Sharatt, chairman of the CBI’s small- and medium-sized enterprise council.
He claims that many innovative small businesses in the UK are often held back by a seeming lack of interest in home-grown ideas.
“It is said that we are good at research and not development. But is that because we do not have a receptive market place?” Bureaucracy and barriers in local and central government procurement often prevent small businesses from being taken seriously, according to Mr Sharatt.
However, the problem is not limited to the public sector.
“You may have a very entrepreneurial character at the helm of a large company but you are often not able to get to him or her.”
The food sector can be particularly resistant to new ideas, according to Mr Sharatt, since supermarket buyers tend to prefer to take existing ideas rather than take a risk on something new.
US institutional investors have spotted this weakness in the UK market and are trying to encourage disaffected British companies to relocate across the Atlantic, where they will be appreciated, Mr Sharatt says.
”We produce fantastic technology but chunks of it are ending up overseas.”
The problem with selling security technology in the UK is that many potential customers have already made prior arrangements to protect their premises, according to Alex Carmichael, director of technical services at the British Security Industry Association.
“Most of the organisations who are aware of this have spent a lot on protection systems,” he says. “The market is there but it is a matter of finding people with the funding.”
The problem for Aigis could be that many new buildings, such as the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh, are already built to withstand bomb blasts, Mr Carmichael says.
“Our construction industry has been involved in coping with this kind of event for the last 30 years. Therefore, those who want to protect their building have already done so.”
The problem for many innovative security technology companies lies in their failure to market the product effectively, Mr Carmichael notes.
“You need to think about who you are selling to. Is it the construction company? Is it the architect? Is it the building’s owner?”
A number of defence exhibitions are run around the UK each year and these provide an excellent arena to demonstrate new technologies such as those developed by Aigis, according to Mr Carmichael.
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