The DTI scheme is designed to help both businesses and academic institutions. It puts graduates into employment and allows the companies access to academic, teaching and research skills.

Acceptance allowed Ducker to recruit graduate design engineer Elton Xhemali, who has since taken a permanent post at the company.

Mr Xhemali led the introduction of computer aided engineering and finite element analysis to assist the project, and David Dawson, head of engineering at Lancaster University, also worked closely with Ducker.

Ducker director Lisa Crossley oversaw the team’s progress. Other team members included Angus Knox, development and reliability engineering, Richard Lannagan, machine control systems and consultant John Spear with 30 years working with roller towel machines.