A YOUNG entrepreneur who devised a unique flood defence system while at Bournemouth University is seeing it exported to the USA.

Simon Phelps, 32, developed and patented Floodstop during his final year of study in 2006.

The university remains a shareholder in his company Fluvial Innovations Ltd.

Floodstop is a barrier that is filled by rising floodwater. This and its weighted connections ensure the barrier will always be denser than the floodwater.

The business has grown on average 25 per cent year-on-year since the launch and sales have grown 40 per cent in the last year.

Mr Phelps credits his export success to government department UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), which gave his company access to experts in international business and opportunities for peer learning, networking, training and education. He took part in two UKTI-led visits, to the US and Australia.

The product was exported to the US via distributors in 2010, but Fluvial Innovations decided direct export was more efficient and the product is now manufactured there under licence.

It is still manufactured in the UK for domestic distribution and exported to France, Austria and Poland, where it is the primary flood defence for large assets including the Warsaw underground. It is also distributed in Australia.

Mr Phelps said: “I could not be more delighted with the support that I’ve received from UKTI, from helping me develop the skills I needed to create an export strategy, through the research stage and finally managing the day to day realities of being an export business. They have been on hand every step of the way.

“We continue to work closely with the team at UKTI to look for new opportunities for export.

"For example we are currently investigating routes into the German market.

"We are a small company, but with the help of UKTI, have been able to reach out to markets that just wouldn’t have been open to us on our own.”

Nigel Crowe, international trade adviser for UKTI, said: “What has impressed us the most is the way that Simon and the team have made the most of every opportunity put their way. We are looking forward to continuing to work with them and playing a part in their future success.”

Floodstop was named Most Innovative Product of The Year 2009 at the Emergency Planners Society’s awards and was a Winner of Climate Week in the Best Climate Ready Initiative 2013.