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Llantrisant-Based Scientific Manufacturer Scoops Two Queen’s Awards for Enterprise


Markes International, Llantrisant-based manufacturer of world-leading scientific laboratory instrumentation for detecting very small amounts of chemicals, has had its business success recognised by two Queen’s Awards for Enterprise.

Markes has received the prestigious awards in the ‘Innovation’ and ‘International Trade’ categories, on the back of the ground-breaking valving technology used in its instruments, as well its continued achievement in growing overseas sales. The pair of awards follow on from success in 2015, when similar business growth led to a Queen’s Award for International Trade.

The switch-valve that is the subject of the Innovation award was developed and patented by the company in the late 1990s, and is now incorporated into all of Markes International’s thermal desorption instruments. The valve is used to regulate flows of gas into and out of a precision-engineered ‘focusing trap’, with the ultimate aim of collecting, concentrating and identifying the volatile chemicals present.

The combined operation of the valve and trap allows tiny amounts of chemicals (as low as parts per billion) to be detected routinely, making Markes’ instruments applicable to a wide range of situations. These include detection of toxins in the environment, analysis of food aromas, testing for hazardous substances in everyday materials, understanding the health implications of the ‘new car smell’, applications in the areas of forensics and homeland security, and breath monitoring for disease diagnosis.

This diversity of applications is what underpins Markes’ business, says Alun Cole, Founding Director of Markes International:

“The ways in which our technology is used have certainly evolved since we were founded in 1997, primarily in response to regulatory demands and emerging research. One of the things that sets us apart from our competitors is our ability to spot those trends early on, and our responsiveness in developing new products to meet those needs.”

“For example, we are currently seeing major growth in government-regulated monitoring of toxic pollutants in urban air, especially in China, while another hot topic is using our equipment to rapidly profile breath, for quick, non-invasive disease diagnosis. Both require top-of-the-range instrumentation, driven by innovations like our switch-valve, as well as dedication in meeting the requirements of our customers, wherever they’re based. This combination of expertise in innovation and developing our global reach has proved to be a powerful combination for our business, and so we’re extremely pleased to have these two aspects highlighted by our latest Queen’s Awards.”