Highland Venture Capital

Investing throughout Scotland in emerging business

IKEA GreenTech invests in Design LED

Design LED Products has developed a technology for a whole new generation of lighting products using energy efficient “light tiles” – LEDs embedded into clear resins and films.

The tiles are unique as they are extremely thin, flexible, and low cost and can be seamlessly joined together in exciting new designs.

The global lighting market is growing rapidly on the back of international government and environmental legislation and increasing consumer demand for low energy, highly differentiated and low cost lighting solutions

IKEA GreenTech (www.ikea.greentechab.com), is an IKEA Group venture capital company. The investment will support the delivery of the IKEA Group Sustainability Strategy, People & Planet Positive, which includes goals to enable customers to save energy and live more sustainably at home.

“This technology opens up fantastic possibilities for innovative designs using energy efficient LEDs. The partnership is a clear strategic fit for IKEA and our goal to make living sustainably affordable and attractive for millions of people,” says managing director Christian Ehrenborg.

LED lights use 85% less energy than incandescent bulbs and last 20 times longer. IKEA will switch its entire lighting range to the technology by September 2015.

The investment will enable Design LED to expand its business and to increase its offer of products that can be used in lighting designs for the home.

Stuart Bain, Design LED’s CEO,commented “This strategic investment allows Design LED to significantly accelerate plans to deliver highly differentiated products to an international market desperate to conserve energy, and hungry for exciting new form factors in LED lighting.”

Existing shareholders invested alongside IKEA GreenTech, including SIB’s Scottish Venture Fund, and the angel groups which have supported the business through its early stages –
Strathtay Ventures, TRIcap, and Highland Venture Capital.

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Big day for revolutionary wheelchair

Carbon Black System of Nairn has reached a major milestone with the delivery of its “first commercially sold bespoke wheelchair” on February 7th – described by company founder and designer Andrew Slorance as “a big day in the history of the revolution of the wheelchair.”

Slorance says Rosie Woodward of Essex was thrilled with her new chair: “It was a great day and very fulfilling to see that a bit of smart design can make a real difference. Rosie could not have been happier and I feel very fortunate to have been part of helping her feel empowered. All the hard work of the last six years to make Carbon Black a reality was made worth it today.”

The revolutionary Carbon Black wheelchair is “designed to empower,” says Slorance, who was paralysed when he was 14 years old, after falling out of a tree. “The day I was paralysed was a bad day, but a worse day was the day I had to go out in public for the very first time as a wheelchair user. I felt the chair robbed me of my identity. I was no longer Andrew the teenager with many interests and aims, I was the boy in the wheelchair,” he writes on the company’s website. “It became who I was.”

Slorance was not trained as a designer but knew from personal experience that the standard approach to design could be greatly improved – starting with a blank canvas and a head full of ideas. He set up his company six years ago after a 20-year career in television, but his journey started when he was sixteen years old and “decided that one day I would re-invent the wheelchair.”

The main aim was to make the wheelchair cool and sexy, two words that wouldn’t normally be associated with wheelchairs to do this the chair had to be as minimal as possible, Slorance explains. We literally mould the chair to the user’s requirements, using carbon fibre – a “miracle” material normally used for Formula One cars. Using carbon fibre enables the chairs to be strong at the same time as light (about 7.5kg) and thus easy to push, with an “unobtrusive” streamlined design that means the user is seen, not the wheelchair.

Other chairs have metal components which have to be oiled, but the Carbon Black chairs never need to be oiled.

Other innovative features include an LED lighting system to show the way ahead, luminous axles which make it easy to assemble in the dark, smart fabrics and clothes guards.

“It’s a highly designed piece of desirable equipment, not a style stifling medical device,” says Slorance.

The seat itself is part of the structure, creating the strongest, stiffest chair possible, using the fewest components possible. The chair is also “ultra-compact” when dismantled, and Slorance describes it as “the easiest manual wheelchair in the world to push” – a claim which will be tested by a scientific study. We are in discussions with the University of the West of Scotland who would like to perform a study on the energy efficiency of Carbon Black.

Every Carbon Black wheelchair is made to order, so buyers can create a chair that looks, feels and performs exactly how they want it. The first commercial customer, Rosie chose 28-inch full carbon wheels with ergonomic carbon push rim profiles, LED forward illuminating lights, carbon fibre foot angle adjuster, medium and large carbon fibre backrest supports and two under-seat pouches with black tint gloss finish. The chair was also built to fit her with centre of gravity (main wheel position) as she wanted.

The Carbon Black chairs cost more than “regular lightweight designs,” with prices starting at about £9,500 compared to roughly £5,000-6,000 for a standard design, but Slorance does not want to “compromise the ethos” of the company’s approach to design. Every chair is custom-built to individual requirements and supplied with a number of options – e.g. different footrest. Lights, backrest choices, wheel sizes and push rims.

Slorance wants the chairs to be competitively priced as well as make people say “wow” when they see the design. Because they use more carbon fibre than any other design and are all made by hand, pricing will always be a challenge, however. Economies of scale may help reduce the price of some parts but the main aim is simply to make better wheelchairs than anyone else, and make customers happy.

The Carbon Black engineers are reported to be “working flat out moulding and assembling chairs of many different sizes and configurations,”

The layup of carbon fibre (orientation and amount of carbon used) can greatly enhance and customise the performance qualities of the chair. Carbon Black engineers have developed a layup that gives suspension qualities to the chair in the same way carbon does to F1 cars without adding any weight or cost. The new suspension layout is now standard on all Carbon Black chairs. Bespoke layups will in time mean carbon black can offer a customised feel and behaviour to a chair fine tuned to what the user wants.

Including a new ultralight chair with special shock absorption suspension which comes at no extra cost and adds no extra weight.

Carbon Black is not only moulding its chairs to the needs of its users but breaking the mould when it comes to design – and changing people’s attitudes to wheelchairs. The “Ferrari of wheelchairs” is also building up a significant fan base, with over 1,000 followers on Facebook and a new website set up by “fans” round the world.

This week, one fan wrote to Slorance, saying: “Just wanted to drop the whole team a great big well done, dreams do come true, you created your dream chair, and now are fulfilling others’ dreams by giving them the chance to own a chair that I am sure will improve all users lives by so much, I know it will mine, and thus your dreams will make mine true too.”

Slorance is creating much more than a wheelchair that looks good and also is easy to push – he seems to be starting a movement. The ‘boy in a wheelchair’ is driving the future of wheelchair design and in the process changing people’s attitudes not only to wheelchairs but also more importantly the people who use them.

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Insignia Technologies starts trials in the US and Europe following investment

Insignia Technologies, the smart packaging company, today announced an £865,000 investment led by Equity Gap along with Highland Venture Capital, the Scottish Investment Bank, Strathclyde University and a number of private investors.

 

The funding will enable the Biocity Scotland-based company to start trials with supermarkets and packaging companies in the US and Europe, ensuring it continues to lead the commercial development of the food labelling market and rapidly accelerate growth.

 

With an estimated 18 million tonnes of edible food sent to landfill in the UK each year, the issue of food waste is constantly in the media and high on the agenda for the general public and governments as well as food producers and retailers.

 

Insignia Technologies has developed a smart label that changes colour over time to show how long a packet of food has been open. This simple concept using patented smart pigment technology has clear benefits for shoppers, retailers, and food producers. Removing the confusion around how long a pack has been opened it reduces unnecessary food waste while restoring consumer confidence in certain food categories which in turn drives repeat purchase and increased sales.

 

Insignia will initially target the food production and processing sector, but has plans to expand into other areas including healthcare, cosmetics and pharmaceutical as Jock Millican who led the deal for Equity Gap explains: “Equity Gap is investing in Insignia Technologies because of the potential use and markets for its products, the strength of the management team and interest that customers have shown in the technology.”

 

Iain Scott, the Chairman of Highland Venture Capital noted “the recent press activity on the food wastage around supermarket foods, draws into sharp focus the need and opportunity for a product like this”

 

Speaking on the rapid progress of the company as it moves beyond proof of concept and towards commercialisation, David Kilshaw, CEO of Insignia Technologies, says: “The recent investment provides Insignia with the opportunity to continue to grow our existing customer base, move forward with customer trials in the UK, US and Europe, driving the business towards commercialisation and positive cash flow. As importantly, the investment provides the necessary funding to drive the development program being carried out by our technical team, both with regards to the existing technologies, as well as future research projects.”

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Scottish wheelchair revolution gains HVC & Scottish Investment Bank funding

carbon-black

Andrew Slorance, designer of the Carbon Black wheelchair and founder of I Imagine ltd has spent four years realising his vision of a wheelchair revolution.  Carbon Black uses F1 technology to create a design that is truly cutting edge giving the user a vastly improved user experience with a stylish minimal design. With a successful proof of concept Andrew, has successfully secured £350,000 investment  from Highland Venture Capital and the Scottish Investment Bank’s Co-Investment Fund.

 

The investment will allow for the production of commercial moulds to produce the made to order wheelchair and take it to a global market that has been starved of such innovation for decades.

 

Using the very latest composite materials and Formula 1 engineering, Carbon Black is set to change our perceptions of the wheelchair. Carbon fibre offers incredible strength to weight properties, combined with unprecedented stiffness for optimal energy efficiency. The monocoque design is both lightweight and strong, yet has a minimal appearance, resulting in more person, less wheelchair.

 

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