A revolutionary piece of sports training equipment designed by an enterprising Herefordshire firm has gone global.
Performance Technology has signed a £40,000 deal to sell 6,000 of its specialist Powerbag exercise aids across Europe.
Following help from UK Trade & Investment, the company is also exporting to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Japan.
The Mordiford-based company delivers performingenhancing products and consultancy services, mostly in the field of sport and exercise.
The Powerbag - which is the firm's main product - is a soft, portable, high density bag with a plastic, foam-filled outer shell. The bags can weigh from 3kg to 50kg and provide a a crossover between Olympic lifting, medicine ball work and core stability training.
They can be used in any training environment by people of all ages, including people with disabilities.
Performance Technology was founded five years ago by managing director Dr Mark Bellamy, who has a PhD in sport psychology and many years' experience working with sportsmen and women at the highest level including Birmingham triple-jumper Ashia Hansen.
Spotting a niche in the market for his product, Mark spent about a year developing and patenting the Powerbag.
It is now part of the standard kit used by high level sports teams, such as the England national cricket, rugby, hockey, squash, tennis, athletics and judo teams and most of the England Premiership football clubs.
International users include the All Blacks, the Springboks and the Australian rugby team. The Powerbag is also used by the British Army, who have taken it out to Iraq.
Dr Bellamy said: "Using the Powerbag is the equivalent of taking your gym with you. I was sure there was huge international potential for this product but needed help to go in the right direction.
"UK Trade & Investment helped with researching new markets, showed me how to go about setting up an agreement, and advised me on all the aspects of selling to different countries.
"Our international trade adviser, Linda Smith, has been fantastic. She also advised me on the European deal."
Performance Technology joined UK Trade & Investment's Passport initiative - a scheme that gives new exporters the training, planning and ongoing support they need to succeed overseas - in summer 2004.
UK Trade & Investment's services in Herefordshire are delivered through Business Link West Mercia.
Ms Smith said: "It's been great working with Mark, who has taken this product off the academic drawing board and positioned it for real commercial appeal."