The Bladez Toyz plc founder has landed a milestone contract with Lucas Licensing, which is responsible for licensing and merchandising activities relating to Hollywood blockbuster Star Wars.
Centring on the good-versus-evil struggle between screen hero Luke Skywalker and malevolent Darth Vader, the famous science fiction franchise smashed box-office records since launching on to the big screen in 1977.
Iain, 34, who has been at landmark Portsmouth Technopole for nearly five years, and his eight-strong team are finalising the development of what is likely to be on the Christmas wish-list of millions of children and nostalgic grown-ups in the UK and abroad.
They are working on finalising a jumbo-sized inflatable R2-D2 – the bin-shaped silver droid and faithful counterpart to golden robot C-3PO, both of whom play a part in shaping history in a galaxy far, far away.
Bladez Toyz’ self-righting R2-D2, operated by a battery-operated handset, rotates 360 degrees and can navigate steps. It is tipped to be toy of the year.
The firm operates out of a 54 sq m (580 sq ft) office at Portsmouth Technopole – www.portsmouth-technopole.co.uk
Run by business and innovation centres specialist Oxford Innovation – www.oxin.co.uk – the landmark offices by the M275 gateway into Portsmouth are home to 41 registered firms employing 175 people between them, with 90% occupancy.
Iain, an ex-pupil of Mayfield School in Portsmouth, said: “It was clear to us that the global market for pump-and-play remote control toys was untapped, and our development focus led to a licensing deal with Lucas Licensing, which is like gold-dust, as you can imagine.
“Star Wars merchandise still has the power to thrill young and old and we felt R2-D2 would be widely liked because of his iconic shape, personality, memorable sound frequencies and the fact he is one of only four characters to appear in all six Star Wars films.”
As an official Star Wars™ Licensee, Bladez Toyz will be rolling out the product from September in the UK, with France, Belgium and Luxembourg next, with plans to roll out in the USA and Australia.
Iain added: “Part of Bladez Toyz’s success is down to the supportive environment that is Portsmouth Technopole, which is why we’ve stayed put.
“There is a real entrepreneurial community here, and we’ve been freed up to do what we do best because calls and the post, as well as facilities management, are taken care by the great staff at Portsmouth Technopole. Nothing is ever too much trouble for them.”
Bladez Toyz – www.bladeztoyz.co.uk – has also been granted a licence by search engine giant Google to develop an inflatable remote control green robot, based on the Android phone icon.
The R2-D2 and Android toys are set to retail at £39.99 each.
Iain founded his firm following a £100,000 investment win on TV’s Tycoon, the brainchild of millionaire businessman Peter Jones of Dragons Den fame.
Senior Centre Manager Stephen Brownlie said: ‘Iain is a home-grown success story which Portsmouth Technopole, as a promoter of companies with high-growth potential in the knowledge-based sectors, is justifiably proud of.
“He is at the vanguard of the new wave of entrepreneurs here in the building, entrepreneurs who rather overcome challenges and hurdles to say ‘I can’ rather than falling into the negativity trap of listing reasons why they can‘t.
“Our range of business support services, such as technical expertise and advice, are also a draw to new occupiers as they find their feet in the hurly-burly world of commerce.
“Portsmouth Technopole is flying the flag for start-ups and growing businesses which require a professional infrastructure in which to flourish – and Bladez Toyz is living proof of that.”
The 20,000 sq ft (1,858 sq m) landmark building provides state-of-the-art offices and conference facilities for start-ups, early-stage firms and outsourced businesses in a supportive easy-in, easy-out environment, with all-inclusive packages and highly competitive prices.
Other occupiers include ships parts supplier Thornton & Davies, software development specialist AMT Data Technologies, skincare products internet trader Venkman Industries, Rocksteady Music School, recruitment-to-recruitment agency People Prospect Solutions and BDH Accountants.
Portsmouth Technopole is one of a network of business and innovation centres managed by Oxford Innovation across the country, with the 30,000 sq ft (2,787 sq m) Ocean Village Innovation Centre in Southampton – www.oceanvillage-ic.co.uk – among them.
Similar to Portsmouth Technopole, it provides offices, conference facilities, office services and a range of business support services for start-ups and early-stage firms, as well as funding gateways and investment networks.