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Making It Work: Wicklow firm hoping to prevent spread of Covid in schools

RV International’s product, the Healthy Desk Pad, uses an antimicrobial print  varnish developed in Germany 

Elaine O’Regan 16th August, 2020

Rory Vance, managing director at RV International

A Co Wicklow company is launching a range of germ-resistant desk pads this week ahead of the planned reopening of schools next month. RV International’s Healthy Desk Pads use an antimicrobial print varnish developed in Germany.

The print management company, based in Bray, has acquired the rights to distribute the Lock 3 varnish, developed by Stuttgart-based Varcotec, in Ireland and Britain. It plans to develop further germ-resistant products for the healthcare, food and sports sectors. For now, however, the company’s focus is on getting its new Healthy Desk Pads into primary and secondary schools around the country before they reopen in the coming weeks with Covid-19 safety measures in place.

Rory Vance, managing director at RV International, said the Lock 3 varnish had been developed over eight years by Varcotec using an antimicrobial agent discovered by researchers at University Hospital Regensburg in Eastern Bavaria.

“They’re a family-owned company like ourselves and getting this to market with all of the necessary certification in place has been a really long haul for them,” Vance said. “We have plans to develop other products for doctors’ surgeries and other healthcare settings, food packaging and distribution and maybe sports as well. There is a lot of potential there, but right now, we really want to get the word out to schools around the country about these desk pads.”

The desk pads can be bought online at rvinternational.ie, priced from €6.70 for the smallest size. Customised options are also available.

Vance said the water-based Lock 3 varnish used in the pads had been clinically tested and was guaranteed for 12 months. “It’s environmentally safe, fully recyclable and contains no harmful metals or chemicals,” he said. “This is all really important for schools, in particular, where safety is paramount, but also in offices and other work environments.”

An antimicrobial dispersion varnish, Lock 3 uses the principle of photodynamics to harness light to kill germs by oxidising the germ shell.“It reduces the risk of germ transmission, because germs, bacteria and viruses can remain active on surfaces for long periods of time and disinfection really only helps at the moment of application,” Vance said. “The idea is that the desk pads can give long-term protection against pathogens, so that schools have another tool to hand to help them open and stay open.”

RV International was established in 2005 by Vance’s father Jack. His brother Ciarán is also involved in the business, which employs four people in Bray. “We’re a small company, but we expect now to create ten jobs over the next 12 months, mainly in sales and logistics, because of this Lock 3 partnership,” Rory said. “Until now, our sole focus has been on print management. We work with a lot of big retail chains, but because they had to close back in March, we had to look at other avenues for the business.”

Vance spent three months researching the market before coming across Varcotec and the Lock 3 technology. “It was a case of research, research, research,” he said. “I spent hours on the laptop looking into what was out there. Getting the distribution rights for Lock 3 in Ireland and Britain is huge for us. It’s a new chapter for our company.”