Thursday, 20 August 2009

Innovative Wheelchair could aid disabled



Innovative wheelchair could aid disabled + VIDEO
Sunderland Echo
Video
See the Smartchair in action.

12 August 2009
By Tim Booler
Chief reporter

A Wearside innovation could revolutionise the lives of disabled people around the world.
The humble wheelchair is about to benefit from new technology and the skills of Sunderland entrepreneurs and North East inventors. They have devised the Smartchair, which they believe could transform the way disabled people can be transported in hospitals, care homes and even their own houses.

It works as a multi-function platform and can change from a wheelchair to a stretcher or lifting platform, without affecting stability. The inventors say the Smartchair cuts the need for many different items for individual functions, and makes the moving process more dignified for patients.

A company, Smartchair Ltd, was set up to develop the idea through Boldon firm Em8 Technology. The group behind the scheme includes Sunderland entrepreneur Alex Bastholm; city businessmen Neil Herron, 46, and Matthew Thoburn, 44; inventor and former Sunderland University lecturer Dr Phillip Tann; inventor Andrew Turner, from County Durham; and company directors Paul Wright and Byron Longstaff.

The Smartchair has been pitched to American experts in the field and UK hospitals as well as Sunningdale School and Ingleside Residential Home."Everbody who's seen the demo video has loved it," said Mr Herron, Smartchair director. "It will allow people more mobility and freedom, and make life easier for hospital staff and carers."

The idea started eight years ago when Mr Bastholm – the developer behind Dalton Park Shopping Mall – required a mobility device for his stepdad, who suffered from multiple sclerosis.Finding nothing suitable on the market, he turned to inventor and robotics expert Andrew Turner, from the automotive industry, who came up with the innovative Smartchair design.

"We had to think outside of the box," said Mr Bastholm. "It's a massive idea. And it's a necessity not a luxury."

The company now aims to take the idea to the next step."We have already demonstrated the design and concept to the Georgia Institute of Technology University Hospital," said Mr Herron." They have indicated an early interest in the technology and they require a working prototype to proceed further." In association with Georgia Tech we presented the technology to the Shepherd Group, who famously helped design the wheelchair system used by Superman actor Christopher Reeve."We are keen to develop and manufacture in the North East and bring manufacturing jobs to the area and we are considering funding options from a number of agencies."We have already been supported by funding from Business Link and the Regional Technology Council and we are currently discussing the way forward with One Northeast."Given the interest we have had already from the States and the NHS we are confident that we will have a product ready for manufacture within 12 months."

Fellow director and investor Mr Thoburn said: "We are keen to push forward and showcase Sunderland-developed and manufactured technology on the national and world stage."

Monday, 10 August 2009

Press Release ... Smartchair

Press Release: Immediate

SMARTCHAIR


Sunderland Entrepreneurs launch new company with revolutionary wheelchair design

A group of Sunderland businessmen and North East inventors have teamed up to develop and manufacture a revolutionary disability mobility device which will assist patient mobility in hospitals and care home facilities around the world.

The device, known as the Smartchair, works as a multi-function platform and can transform from a wheelchair to a stretcher or lifting platform and its unique patented design will allow multiple movements without affecting stability.

Director Neil Herron states: “SmartChair Ltd is a fully devolved spin out business set up by the directors of Em8 Technology and other Sunderland entrepreneurs and North East inventors. It is anticipated that the novel wheelchair design will have applications in many hospital portering and general nursing applications. The anticipated markets are likely to be hospitals, care homes, and ambulance services, in fact any application that involves the movement of patients.”

“We have already demonstrated the design and concept to Georgia Tech (Georgia Institute of Technology University Hospital) and they have indicated an early interest in the technology and they require a working prototype to proceed further with the project. In association with Georgia Tech we presented the technology to the Shepherd Group who famously helped design the wheelchair system used by Superman actor Christopher Reeve.”

“We are keen to develop and manufacture in the North East and bring manufacturing jobs to the area and we are considering funding options from a number of agencies and we have already been supported by funding from Business Link and RTC North and we are currently discussing the way forward with One North East.”

“Given the interest we have had already from the States and the NHS we are confident that we will have a product ready for manufacture within 12 months.”

The company have expressed a preference to fund and develop the chair in the North East region and are working closely with RTC (Regional Technology Council) North and the NHS Foundation to secure research and development and Equity Investor funding to initially build a prototype and then go to full manufacture.

Inventor Andy Turner states: “My background is in the robotic sector of the automotive industry and I am keen to see our invention taken to market and provide much needed manufacturing jobs for the North East.”

Smartchair Director and investor Matthew Thoburn said: “It is an exciting invention and one which will be of massive benefit to the NHS and the private care home sector assisting with disability mobility. We are keen to push forward and showcase Sunderland and the North East developed and manufactured technology on the national and world stage.”

The Smartchair Directors hope to secure funding to develop a prototype to trial and test then hope to go into full production next year.

ENDS

Contact:

Neil Herron
0191 519 5932
07776 202045

Background
The ‘Smartchair’ idea was originally conceived and developed by North East inventor Andrew Turner a few years ago after being approached by Sunderland businessman Alex Bastholm [1] who required a mobility device for his step father. Finding that there was nothing suitable on the market Alex, who was the developer behind Dalton Park Retail outlet, had turned to a robotics specialist in the automotive industry who came up with the innovative concept incorporating planes of movement used in production line robotics allied with disability mobility needs.

Robotics specialist and inventor Andrew Turner designed and developed the concept but it was mothballed due to the team becoming involved with other projects.

However, local press and media coverage of Neil Herron[2] and inventor Dr. Tann’s [3]new company Em8 Technology (design and innovation and GPS tracking technology) sparked Alex into looking to revive the idea and the consortium was pulled together. A new company, Smartchair Ltd. was set up and the Directors include inventors Andrew Turner and Dr. Tann along with entrepreneurs Neil Herron 46 and property developer Matthew Thoburn 44. Paul Wright 40 has joined the team as Sales Director and Byron Longstaff as Finance Director.

RTC and NHS Innovations North are on board assist Smart Chair Ltd with project management chair and to provide the company with assistance in managing collaborative development work which will include penetration into the NHS

Notes
NHS Innovations North
NHS Innovations is a network of nine regional NHS Innovations companies, each aligned to Regional Development Agency and Strategic Health Authority boundaries. The nine Innovation Hubs were set up with a dual role to champion the cause of innovation within the NHS and to identify, protect and commercialise specific innovations that have the potential to improve patient care, increase the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the NHS, and stimulate increased business and enterprise activity in the field of healthcare.

NHS Innovations North is the Intellectual Property (IP) management Hub for the NHS in the North East of England and is a service delivered by RTC North Limited. RTC North is one of Europe’s leading independent technology transfer companies, serving businesses, universities and the public sector in the UK and overseas.

Since its inception in 2002, NHS Innovations North has gained significant experience in delivering technology transfer services to the NHS within the North East of England and has subsequently worked with and licensed products, to several SMEs based in the North East of England.

Since its inception, NHS Innovations North has worked closely with healthcare and related businesses in order to promote more effective collaboration between the NHS and the private sector.

[1] Carbon Green
http://www.nebusiness.co.uk/business-news/construction-in-north-east/2008/06/27/eco-friendly-firm-looks-to-quadruple-turnover-51140-21158488/
Dalton Parkhttp://archive.thenorthernecho.co.uk/2002/11/19/113930.html

[2] Vehicle Trackinghttp://www.nebusiness.co.uk/business-news/science-and-technology/2009/04/16/north-invention-to-make-life-easier-for-pub-trade-51140-23393984/

[3] India launchhttp://www.nebusiness.co.uk/business-news/latest-business-news/2009/01/15/india-bus-trial-for-tracker-51140-22695143/

Construction and demonstration of degrees of movement

video

The Smartchair concept allows a number of planes of movement including the ability to lift the patient, move the patient sideways and convert into a stretcher.

It is more than just a wheelchair ... it is a patient transfer or disability mobility solution.

Transferring patient to a vehicle and to a settee

video

The value of Smartchair will not only be in the ease of movement of patients but also in time savings and minimisation and reduction in back injuries.

Transferring a patient from bed to chair to toilet

video

Again it can be seen how Smartchair's ability to move in a number of planes has an andantage over the traditional type of wheelchair.

Moving the patient from a seat to a bed

video

The advantages and benefits over the traditional wheelchair can be clearly seen.