Howden Compressors invests £1.2m in innovation to create growth from oil and gas downturn

Engineering company Howden Compressors is investing up to £1.2 million over the next three years to develop and expand its range of oil-free screw compressors to substantially increase its global presence in Oil & Gas industrial compressor markets.

Scottish Enterprise is supporting the company with an R&D grant of £431,000 to assist the development of innovative new products and accelerate getting these to market.  It is hoped this investment will help the company create up to nine new jobs on completion of the project in three years.

The news was announced during a visit this morning to Howden Compressors’ Renfrew manufacturing site by Derek Mackay MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution.  Mr Mackay also visited Swippii, a Glasgow-based loyalty app provider for SMEs, this morning to announce £500,000 of Scottish Enterprise Regional Selective Assistance support to the company, creating 45 new jobs.

At the site in Renfrew, Howden Compressors designs, engineers, manufactures and installs oil-free screw compressors which are used to provide compressed air and other gases of exceptional purity in various challenging applications such as vapour recompression, gas gathering, gas re-liquefaction and flare gas recovery.

Growing the business in recent years has become increasingly challenging due the global oil and gas market downturn.  In response, Howden Compressors’ management team took a strategic decision to invest in innovation to develop new designs for its oil-free range of screw compressors using a Voice of the Customer (VOC) driven process. 

With a vision based on customer driven design and deep understanding of the market opportunities, Howden’s goal is to increase its share of the global oil-free screw compressor market by 2021.

Derek Mackay MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution, said: "I'm ‎delighted to see Howden investing £1.2 million in their Renfrew facility with the aim of developing and expanding their range of products.

"I'm also pleased to note that this investment is being supported by a Scottish Enterprise R&D grant of £431,000.

"Increasing the levels of business innovation is critical to Scotland’s economic success, and it's great to see Howdens putting this into action.‎"

Fred Hearle, Global Product Director and Managing Director for Howden Compressors, said: “Over decades, Howden introduced many innovations, from the forced draught system and the invention of the Diaphragm Compressor to the commercialisation of the Rotary Heat Exchanger and the Screw Compressor. The development of our oil-free range of screw compressors is part of our continuous investment to use innovation driven product design and continue to deliver our excellent products to our customers.

Earlier this year Scottish Enterprise prioritised £10 million to help more oil and gas companies and their supply chains reduce the risk of investing in innovation and R&D.  Since February this year 70 projects have been supported with a total investment by companies of £16 million.

Adrian Gillespie, Managing Director of Growth Companies, Innovation and Infrastructure at Scottish Enterprise, said: “Increasing business innovation investment is critical to maintaining Scotland’s global competitiveness. 


“As Scotland’s innovation agency, we want to encourage more companies to invest in Innovation and  R&D as this leads directly to internationally competitive products and services.  It is particularly important for Scotland’s oil and gas sector as it can drive cost reduction and diversification into new markets.


“Howden Compressors is a great example of how innovation can drive company growth through international sales and we wish the team every success with this project.“


Established over 160 years ago, Howden employs over 350 staff at its Renfrew manufacturing facility, which is the company’s Global Centre of Excellence for screw compressor design and manufacturing.

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