Electronics Company which has inspired over 1,000,000 people to build their very own electronic projects celebrates 10th birthday
Setting up your own business can be a daunting prospect but its one challenge that Kitronik founders Geoff Hampson and Kevin Spurr have no regrets about.
Kitronik is today celebrating its 10th birthday. This significant anniversary has been a landmark year for the company which has seen it celebrate its 1 millionth sale, hire new staff and work alongside some of the biggest names in technology such as Samsung and Microsoft as one of the partner organisations in the BBC’s micro:bit project.
The Nottingham based Electronics Company which specialises in developing electronics project kits and associated learning resources for schools and home hobbyists, started life in Geoff’s front room in 2005. The company has grown steadily over the last 10 years to reach a turnover of over £1,000,000, work with 3,000 UK schools, distribute its products worldwide via its website and employ 24 members of staff.
The current Kitronik Team
A Company is Born
Kitronik was born through its directors’ voluntary work teaching electronics to young people. Inspiring people to create their own electronics projects became the founding principle of Kitronik. It was through Geoff’s involvement with the Scouts and their Technology Camps that he spotted a gap in the market when it came to the availability of resources for those starting out with electronics.
Geoff comments: “We had graduated from Loughborough University with degrees in electronic engineering and were working in Nottingham as electronic engineers. In our spare time we volunteered at the Scouts’ technology camps, designing electronic products and assisting in soldering activities. We noticed that there really wasn’t a wealth of kits and resources available for young people interested in electronics, so we decided to create them.”
Following £26,000 of investment from both Geoff and Kevin, Kitronik was born in 2005. Kitronik created an initial range of 5 project kits designed to support the National Curriculum programmes for the study of design and technology at Key Stages 3 and 4. This range has expanded to over 50 and the company’s project kits and learning resources are now used by thousands of children within UK secondary schools and are also shipped to schools in Australia, Ireland, Finland, Malaysia and Singapore.
Geoff cutting Kitronik's Birthday cake
Growing Interest in Electronics
The potential of electronics is huge and Kitronik has created kits to enable teachers, school children and also home users within the thriving maker community to make all manner of electronic products. Whatever project a school or individual would like to create, Kitronik has grown to be able to facilitate that need with an electronics project kit.
The company is progressing and adapting to the latest changes and developments within electronics and design and technology. With the rise in both use and awareness of wearable technology, in 2013 Kitronik launched its ‘Electro Fashion’ range. This range of materials and resources, such as sewable conductive thread, helps users fuse electronics and textiles together and create their own pieces of wearable technology.
Kitronik is seeing huge demand from schools for resources and products relating to 3D Printing. This has led to Kitronik signing a distribution agreement with Robox CEL to distribute its RBX01 3D printer to schools and developing a range of 3D printing resources to support it.
Developments such as wearable technology and 3D printing a certainly providing the spark for young people to become interested in the potential of electronics.
Kevin Spurr comments: “Interest is growing rapidly and showing people how they can create their own piece of wearable technology or 3D print a project certainly grabs their attention. There is a definite shift from people becoming users of products to creators of products. This is great for us as we want to inspire young people to become interested in electronics and demonstrate what an exciting subject area it is. This has been the founding principle of Kitronik. It is much publicised that the UK suffers from a lack of digital skills. We hope that by encouraging more young people to become interested in electronics, the lack of skills will be lessened in the future.”
Increasing Awareness for the Future
Interest in electronics and digital creativity is certainly growing. This increase in popularity, interest from schools and also from the extensive Maker Community has gone hand in hand with the growth of Kitronik.
Despite the growth in popularity of electronics more needs to be done on a national level to increase young people’s digital skills and promote electronics and coding. Kitronik’s 10th year coincided with a major initiative from the BBC designed to do just that.
Known as the BBC micro:bit project, the broadcaster is working with a multitude of partner organisations to create a pocket sized coding device which will be delivered to every year 7 pupil in the UK in 2016.
Kitronik is one of those partner organisations and is doing what it does best, designing a range of project kits and resources to support the use of the BBC Micro:bit within schools.
Geoff comments: “Marking our 10th anniversary by being involved in such a landmark project is fantastic and I am really looking forward to when the BBC micro:bit being delivered to schools. I am sure the children will love it and surprise us all with what they create and use the BBC micro:bit for.”
“When I think of where Kevin and I started from in my front room 10 years ago, to be at a launch event with the likes of Samsung and Microsoft is hugely satisfying. It has certainly flown by and I am looking forward to where the next 10 years will take the company.”
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