Mobility start-up Staels Design won £100,000 in the 10th Scottish EDGE final on the 22nd of June for their design: the WheelAir® cooling wheelchair cushion.
Glasgow based Staels Design was one of only two companies that were given the huge sum of £100,000 from the Scottish Edge panel within the main Edge category. Impressed by founder Corien Staels’ pitch, which they described as ‘exceptional’, they awarded her £3,000 more than she applied for. The company originally asked for £97,000 to start the manufacturing of WheelAir® and expand the team.
Scottish EDGE is a competition aimed at identifying and supporting Scotland’s up-and-coming, innovative, high-growth potential entrepreneurial talent. Whittled down from 240 applications, 20 companies had the opportunity to pitch at the final in Edinburgh at the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Gogarburn Conference Centre. However only 12 were awarded grants within the main category, which saw £700,000 divided between them.
The WheelAir® is a wheelchair backrest cushion with an in-built fan which provides instant cooling whilst also being ergonomically designed to be more supportive. The unique battery powered technology cools the user by gently blowing air onto their backs, taking away any excess heat and moisture. WheelAir® increases comfort and keeps the user cool, while combining function with style.
Jay Anderson, a multi-disciplined athlete and wheelchair user said after using the WheelAir® last week: “This is the first time I’ve been in the park in the sun without overheating in 20 years. And not only is it adding so much comfort, it is actually attractive!”
Michael Kerr, the double Paralympian wheelchair rugby player and former captain said: “I can’t wait until the WheelAir® is launched. I experience a lot of problems with overheating during games and am glad there is finally going to be an effective solution to this problem without having to resort to being sprayed with water.”
The company are currently partaking in a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign where they have almost raised £10,000 of their £30,000 target. However, this business grant from Scottish Edge will ensure the WheelAir® can enter the mainstream market and sell through retail and distribution channels.
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Photo source: Staels Design