Archipelago Technology
Peadar Byrne
Peadar Byrne
Further Information
27th Feb 2024
In this article, Peadar Byrne, Consultant Engineer at Archipelago, investigates the reasons why Archipelago hires new graduates and the difference between his employer and other companies

With over half of its employees under 30 years of age, the Archipelago Technology team is focused on developing its Powerdrop industrial inkjet-coating system. The system coats paper packaging which enables the shift to sustainable, low-carbon packaging. 

Guy Newcombe with Archipelago’s under 30s
Guy Newcombe with Archipelago’s under 30s

To fund this development, Archipelago Technology raised €1.75 million in September 2023. This was made possible through a fundraising round between an Innovate UK grant and private investors. Following this investment round, Archipelago hired four young people – two graduates, a year-in-industry graduate and a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Associate, post-doctorate researcher.


Graduates, at the beginning of their careers, tend to have a unique attitude. They often possess a keenness to try new experiences and take on challenges which require learning new skills. Archipelago has found that this attitude has enabled the completion of some impressive projects. For example, in 2022/23 a QMUL (Queen Mary University of London) year-in-industry student almost single-handedly led Archipelago through the entire ISO9001 company quality process in 
12 months. 

“Graduates, at the beginning of their careers, tend to have a unique attitude”

Time and again, the company has found that the enthusiasm and self-belief of recent graduates can be transformational in the work environment. In particular, young employees have a significant effect on the expectations that other employees have of themselves. These young employees set a standard that, by its nature, encourages others to feel that they too can achieve at the same level. 

Archipelago recently hired a winter intern for four weeks and, as part of her project, she took on CAD. As a result, two fairly recent graduate employees – who had not used it before – almost immediately took it upon themselves to learn CAD. 


At last, graduates have become an important link between academia and industry, as they bring the latest academic knowledge and methods. There are two university schemes – both generally available to UK companies. The Year-In-Industry scheme, enables a student to gain real work experience as part of their degree. The KTP scheme similarly provides an opportunity for a skilled academic researcher to gain industry experience. Simultaneously, the industry partner is provided with valuable access to cutting-edge, academic knowledge and resources


The inkjet industry currently struggles to attract and hire young graduates. As a Cambridge graduate mechanical and fluids engineer, Byrne recently spoke at the FuturePrint Tech Conference in Cambridge, UK. He discussed the employment of graduates in the inkjet sector. This took place on a panel discussion, led by inkjet recruiter, Dorinda Gibbons. Guy Newcombe, CEO of Archipelago, and Patrick J Smith were also on the panel. Smith is a university inkjet researcher and lecturer at Sheffield University. Ironically, at this conference, Byrne observed that, in a room of 150 people, he was the only person under the age of 30. 

“At last, graduates have become an important link between academia and industry”


A particularly pertinent point that came out of the discussion, was the preconceptions of graduates regarding the industrial-inkjet industry. Before Byrne worked at Archipelago, his view was that inkjet was an old, stale technology. He has come to realise that, in reality, inkjet is an exciting industry with many novel and developed technologies being applied to solve industrial-coating problems.

The excuse that inkjet – as a manufacturing industry – will never be as exciting or attractive to graduates as Formula 1 or the aerospace industry, Byrne believes is not true. This is particularly the case when looking at the additive manufacturing (AM) industry. AM has captured the minds of students at many universities within the UK and, as a result, has 3D-printing, student societies. This means that in their free time, students are using and developing a manufacturing technology.

The inkjet industry needs to capture a similar level of excitement. Perhaps industrial inkjet is a misleading name. The word ‘inkjet’ often conjures up cheap plastic desktop printers that have been around for decades. However, inkjet includes the creation of functional engineering coatings, eye-capturing colours and graphics. The industry is only at the beginning of its capabilities and needs to capture the minds of the young.


Changing the preconceptions and image of an entire industry will take time. For Archipelago, the key to both attracting and hiring suitable graduates has been its relationship with universities over several years. These connections have enabled Archipelago to hire four graduates with confidence in less than six months. For instance, two years before Byrne joined Archipelago, as a graduate, he completed a ten-week internship at the company. He had heard about Archipelago through a database created by Cambridge University to help its students find internships. 

“AM has captured the minds of students at many universities within the UK”

Furthermore, Byrne has been given the responsibility of hiring interns for next summer. All ten applicants found the company through the same database. Offering internships and becoming a part of university databases, is a good way to attract and hire interns. Archipelago is also partnered with Queen Mary and University College London (UCL) to offer industrial projects at both undergraduate and master’s level. The two other new graduate employees – Greg Nam and Yahya Sajjad – completed a master’s and degree project respectively with Archipelago prior to joining. After this, Nam joined Archipelago full time and Sajjid joined as a year-in-industry employee. Archipelago’s partnership with UCL and Queen Mary has led to a KTP funded by Innovate UK. Lekshmi BS is a post-doctorate researcher who will be working with Archipelago for 18 months, alongside two highly respected academics – Dr Radomir Slavchov and Professor Rafa Castrejón-Pita. 


Primarily, the way to attract young graduates is through university connections. These include offering internships, undergraduate and graduate projects, year-in-industry placements and KTPs. Young graduates have the potential to have a positive impact on an entire team with their enthusiasm and academic knowledge.