Wheelchair entrepreneur secures investment

Posted on 23 Mar 2018 and read 607 times
Wheelchair entrepreneur secures investmentThe Glasgow-based wheelchair company Freedom One Life (www.freedomonelife.com) has successfully closed its first external funding round, attracting £280,000 from investors.

Alex Papanikolaou started the company in 2013, to enable people living with physical disability to expect and achieve the same standard of living and mobility that a non-disabled person takes for granted.

Mr Papanikolaou, who has athetoid cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair on a daily basis, founded the business because he could not find a reliable powered wheelchair on the market.

In 2016, he was joined by Albert Nicholl, an experienced business operator in the mechanical devices sector, to support the company’s commercialisation.

This funding round is the first of three tranches. The next two will be for £350,000 and £600,000 respectively.

Mr Papanikolaou, who has covered hundreds of miles in the prototype Freedom One wheelchair, said: “This first tranche will enable us to complete design for manufacture, critical safety and regulatory testing, and get this new product to market.

“The £350,000 will allow us to grow the business throughout the UK, while the £600,000 will take sales to Scandinavia and the USA.

“This first round was very much the last hurdle to getting to market; we already have customers lined up waiting to buy.”

The business recently completed the fourth version of the chair, which includes a more integrated design and look, a tilt function (for pressure relief) and customised seating options.

Its lithium-ion battery maintains a seven-day charge and offers a 10-year life — compared with one day and one year respectively for a lead-acid battery.

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