Tell us about your organisation and what they do
Cubik Innovation are experts in the design and development of electronic products for a broad range of industry sectors.
We work with emerging businesses, entrepreneurs and corporations, helping them to realise their electronic design objectives and to bring new products to market.
We’re based at Bristol and Bath Science Park and employ 20 people, working across electronic design and production - operating two automated production lines in-house for PCB assembly. This year we’re currently working with around 20 customers from a range of sectors, inclusive of utilities management, defence, automobile engineering and domestic electronics.
Wherever we can, we try and offer as close to an end-to-end solution as possible. When we’re approached with an idea, we help to develop it, design and engineer a prototype and undertake test qualification testing through to production, while retaining as much as possible in-house. When a full iteration of the product is complete, we aim to work collaboratively with our customer through user testing, ascertaining scope for a potential second iteration or providing large-scale production for market.
What is the background to Cubik’s inception?
Paul Mullen is founder and managing director of Cubik Innovation for whom electronics has been a childhood hobby and passion. Paul set up his first business, PaniK technology in 1989, carrying out electronic product design, which was spun out of his interest. With an extensive client list including Mars Drinks and Smith and Nephew, the business was sold to its biggest client in 2011.
In 2012, using his experience in electronics design, Paul came up with the idea of working with external bureau services, assisting organisations in the development of their products, and subsequently Cubik Innovation was founded.
Paul’s intention was that Cubik would never be more than four people, but over time realised there was a significant gap in the market for offering a fully integrated service from the idea through to the finished product. With enquiries from organisations looking for manufacturing partners and assistance in design, through to how to fund innovative ideas, Cubik’s success grew. Fast forward to 2016 and the company worked on a smart metering device for biohazards, developed a water defence flood system and was involved in the development of a number of innovative projects.
What challenges is Cubik addressing in the marketplace?
Our primary USP is that we offer a complete solution from electronics design, development and prototyping through to manufacture, which is unusual in our industry. There are a few companies in the UK that offer an end-to-end service but not that many so we like to try and fulfil as many of those services as possible.
Manufacturing products in this country can be challenging due to labour costs, so you have to apply certain techniques to make UK manufacture cost effective. During the design process it is possible to reduce the labour cost element which can make UK based manufacture very competitive. At Cubik, we advocate a different mind-set to assist this. Factoring touch time (the cumulative time a person has to interact with the product to complete manufacture) early on in the development process means you are able to highlight where the labour cost is high and where it can be cut. For example, automating elements of production, such as using a connector instead of a wiring assembly will reduce the need for labour-intensive hand soldering. Solutions as simple as this that reduce touch time and cut manufacture costs enormously.
As an organisation, we are very passionate about ‘designing for UK manufacture’ which affords a number of benefits such as lower stock holdings, better management costs, the ability to tailor stock requirements and manufacturing in smaller quantities.
Who are the organisations that you work with?
We work with a wide variety of organisations, large and small. A significant number of these - specialist companies based in the South West, but we are not limited to our locality and proudly work with some international and globally corporations.
We work closely with many local partners including Bristol model makers, Amalgam. Our relationship with Amalgam has been particularly advantageous, with Cubik providing electronic design and Amalgam providing the industrial design and prototype enclosures to complete the cycle on a number of projects.
We work across all sectors from defence to facilities management, but due to the sensitive nature of our work and the limitations of NDAs and IP restrictions - we cannot always highlight the projects we have been involved in.
We have good relationships with Bristol University, the University of the West of England and have fostered a long-standing relationship with The University of Plymouth – who do very well in fulfilling our intern and graduate training opportunities.
What are Cubik hoping to achieve in the future?
We want Cubik to be considered as the recognised leader in electronic product design in the South-West – and who knows, maybe nationally. We have a fantastic team of experts, which we plan on growing in line with offering a really broad set of services. One of the areas we’re looking at is packaging design and offering this as a potential service as we have these skills in-house. It will be very exciting to see our first turnkey product, compete with the physical shape, functional electronics and packaging that we designed.
What accomplishments are Cubik most proud of?
One of the most important moments in Cubik’s early history was getting an in-house production line up and running, following the win of a huge project with a local water authority. The job involved a lot of mechanical manufacture and a full scope of production techniques - securing Cubik’s current production department. We now have two production lines and a specialist prototyping area with six dedicated production engineers.
Since then we’ve had some great successes, winning awards, working on and completing some amazing projects and growing our team.
2015 was a fantastic year for Cubik. In terms of recognition and awards, we won Start-Up Business of the Year at The Bristol Evening Post Awards, which was a very significant win for us. We (Paul Mullen) were also awarded Highly Commended in the Small Company Director Category at the Institute of Directors, South West Director of the Year Awards. Our awards are testament to the hard work of our young and talented team of engineers and creative brains, but also highlight the innovative, savvy concepts and ideas brought to us by our customers, for whom without them, our awards and success would not be possible.