Freedom for Life hits £280k
Wheelchair developer closes first fund round
Alex Papanikolaou: first tranche will help get product to market
Freedom One Life – a Glasgow-based company specialising in advanced power wheelchairs – has successfully closed its first external funding round.
Murray Capital – the private investment office of the Murray family – is amongst the lead investors in this round, together with Ian Marchant, chairman of Wood and Thames Water; and Stuart Macdonald, managing director of cyber security business Seric Systems.
Alex Papanikolaou, the founder of Freedom One Life, launched the company 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 in 2013 because he could not find a power wheelchair in the market that he could consistently rely on.
In 2016, he was joined by Albert Nicholl, an experienced medical device business leader, to support the company in commercialising its activities.
This first funding round has closed at £280,000, and is the first of three tranches.
The next two tranches will be for £350,000 and £600,000 respectively.
Mr Papanikolaou said: “This first tranche will enable us to complete design for manufacture, complete critical safety and regulatory testing, and get this important new product to market.
“The £350,000 will allow us to scale throughout the UK, and the £600,000 will take sales to Scandinavia and the US.
“This first round was very much the last hurdle to getting to market – we already have customers lined up waiting to buy.”
David D. Murray, managing director of Murray Capital, said: “We are delighted to be investing in this advanced new product. It is about bringing significant improvements to quality of life, and we are confident it will perform well in markets at home and abroad.”
According to former Scottish and Southern Energy chief executive Mr Marchant, who has been investing in businesses in a personal capacity for the past four years, Freedom One Life was attractive because it is looking to “solve a real problem faced by an increasing number of people.
“Their deep understanding of the customer need and issues with the current products on the market is the company’s biggest strength.”
Mr Macdonald has been involved with Freedom One Life for the past four years, acting as a mentor to Mr Papanikolaou and serving as a non-executive director on the business’s board.
He said: “I’m delighted that the Freedom One Chair is another stage closer to transforming the lives of power chair users worldwide. Watch this space.”