Innovate UK EDGE helps designers bring to market a novel protective hood that offers clear vision and allows a more comfortable connection between patients and medical staff.
Innovate UK EDGE has played a key role in the growth of an early-stage Gravesend firm developing a low-cost, lightweight and radical alternative to the facemasks, visors and powered air-respiratory devices commonly used by medical staff caring for COVID-19 patients.
As well as being comfortable, Worksafe Design’s Air-Hood looks very different too, offering all-round, clear vision which allows staff and patients to communicate more easily and effectively.
Innovate UK EDGE innovation and growth specialist Simon Atack was called in a year ago by design engineer Peter Slee-Smith to help his multi-disciplinary team at Worksafe Design to negotiate various hurdles and barriers to commercialisation, some unforeseen.
Innovate UK EDGE connections help with commercialisation & internationalisation
Peter said: “Simon grasped very quickly what we were doing and knew the sorts of support we needed – and continues to do so as we evolve the business. He’s been a tremendously valuable member of the team.
“As our adviser, Simon is exceedingly well connected and Innovate UK EDGE is a tremendous resource to tap into.”
Crucial early introductions made by Simon included those to the British Standards Institute healthcare team for guidance on certification, the Medtech Navigator at Health Enterprise East and Anglia Ruskin University Keep+ where the company sourced £12,500 funding to support its marketing launch.
Another introduction via the University of Hertfordshire led to Peter’s team working with specialist technicians at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL Porton Down).
When Air-Hood encountered a major problem with the filtration system, Simon put it in touch with GVS Filter Technology in Lancashire, whose Healthcare Air Filtration division came up with the solution.
Innovate UK EDGE’s close relationship with the Department for International Trade also opened the door to a PPE specialist within the DIT team, who provided useful information in the development of the Air Hood for internationalisation.
£75k COVID-19 funding secured with specialist's guidance
With Simon’s guidance, Worksafe Design was awarded £50,000 in COVID-19 Fast Response funding, later raised to £75,000, which meant it could progress further, faster.
Simon also arranged for an IP audit worth £2,500, leading to Worksafe Design applying for two patents for the design.
Shaping a growth and scaling strategy & getting investment ready
Now, with a marketable pre-production prototype, Worksafe and Innovate UK EDGE are focusing on mapping out a growth and scaling strategy that builds on substantial interest and pre-orders in the medical sector.
It is also opening up a range of potential collaborative projects with partners such as the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital Innovation Team, who were introduced to Worksafe by Simon.
Peter added: “We will definitely benefit from Innovate UK EDGE’s support in taking the product and business forward, in particular to expand in our key markets and get investment ready, so that we are in the best position to scale.”
As our adviser, Simon is exceedingly well connected and Innovate UK is a tremendous resource to tap into.'
Peter Slee-Smith, founder- director, Worksafe Design Ltd