Making it Work

Dublin firm's solar-powered billboards used at bus and Luas stops

Solar AdTek provides partially or wholly solar powered advertising billboards in over 100 locations

Eoin O’Broin, founer of Solar AdTek: ‘We developed in a way that is smart to turn up or down the lighting at certain times, to comply with the individual by-laws of a city.’ Picture: Fergal Philips

Solar AdTek is a Dublin-based business that was founded by Eoin O’Broin and John Bouchier in 2015. The company has developed a power and carbon saving approach to lighting for advertising panels.

“We design and produce it here in Ireland. The displays tend to be what you see on a bus shelter here. It’s specifically designed for this purpose and saves up to 80 per cent of the electricity used as well as saving 80 per cent of the carbon,” O’Broin told the Business Post.

“I’ve been involved in the outdoor advertising business for 30 years. We first developed a prototype for Clear Channel where we discovered many bus shelters had no connection to the power grid.”

That initial pilot discovered several issues which led to Solar AdTek recognising potential in the market. The products developed by the business focus either on wholly solar-powered displays or displays attached directly to the grid, depending on the circumstances, which are designed to be energy efficient.

“It sounds like a niche market but the outdoor advertising market globally is enormous and all of our potential customers have the same challenges,” O’Broin said.

“We’ve also developed in a way that is smart to turn up or down the lighting at certain times, to comply with the individual by-laws of a city.”

If you’ve ever got on a bus, train, or Luas, you’ve almost certainly been near Solar AdTek’s technology. The company’s technology is used at every stop and station with a powered display across Ireland.

“With our lighting for advertising displays, we’ve developed a billboard light in conjunction with Ikea. We have fitted 102 billboards in Ireland and the clients are delighted because of the savings they have made along with the quality of the display, they look really good because they look backlit,” O’Broin said.

“There’s international potential with Ikea. Most of our orders are international. Even looking at my current order chart while I speak, we have orders from Sweden, China, Britain, Spain and France at the moment. We’re talking to the biggest outdoor advertising and transport companies on the market.”

Solar AdTek’s offer of both reduced costs and reduced carbon emissions has made the Dublin company’s products particularly appealing in the current environment.

“It’s particularly relevant at present with energy costs being high and with climate change becoming incredibly important. Those carbon savings are hugely important.”

The business is part of the high-potential start-up unit (HPSU) in Enterprise Ireland and O’Broin said the agency had provided substantial help in Solar AdTek’s growth.

“Enterprise Ireland helped us in a huge way. They invested in us when we first started off and we’ve used their network abroad to find clients and partners. They push us, because they are invested in us, to achieve our goals,” he said.

“In the next five years, we want to have revenue of €30 million annually. We know the market is out there, we know the customers, and we can build a sustainable business going forward.”

This Making it Work article is produced in partnership with Enterprise Ireland