EnaSolar, a subsidiary of well-known Christchurch electronics and telecommunications specialist Dennis Chapman's company Enatel, won the award on Thursday evening for Innovation in Manufacturing at the Bayer sponsored New Zealand innovation awards.
The evaluation team "was impressed by EnaSolar's adaptive innovation of existing technologies and its customer-led product design".
EnaSolar business development manager Alan Booth said the company had two calls yesterday from people who had heard about the award. One was from a distributor in Britain and another an Australian customer.
"Brand equity is hard to come by nowadays unless you have something to hang your hat on so [winning an award] does make a difference," Booth said.
Solar inverters convert the energy collected by solar panels into alternating current to run appliance in homes.
EnaSolar, started about 2½ years ago, sold its products through distributors and installers and predominantly sold the solar inverters overseas – in Australia and Britain, where "we are very strong". Both countries had incentives for solar power through "feed in tariff" schemes.
EnaSolar was the only manufacturer of solar inverters in New Zealand, Australia had 2 and there were only about 50 serious manufacturers worldwide, Booth said.
"Its innovative because of the way we have applied the technology. Our aim is to become the default inverter supplier in Australasia. To do that we decided to do everything in New Zealand which is very rare."
Typically a high cost, high technology product like that would have been made in Asia.
New Zealand was producing top high tech products now, he said, but it was still a challenge to change the local mindset that the best was overseas.
The company had used Chapman's design knowledge and also had a strong design team. Booth declined to reveal annual sales figures.
EnaSolar's parent Enatel started out providing contracting manufacturing to the electronics industry in Christchurch.
It now produces a wide range of products and has become one of the key providers of standby DC power solutions to the global market.
Source: Marta Steeman -