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Freedom One Life

Wheelchair designer seeks capital for market push

Powered growth: new capital sought for wheelchair firm

Freedom One Life, the Glasgow-based specialist in the design and production of advanced powered wheelchairs, is seeking fresh capital in order to take its next-generation Series 5 model to market.

The company is looking to raise equity funding via crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to supplement the backing it has received from existing investors Murray Capital, Ian Marchant (former chief executive of SSE) and Stuart Macdonald (founder and managing director of cyber security firm Seric), who all continue to support the business.

Innovate UK, the UK government’s innovation agency, has also contributed more than £250k of grant funding.

Alex Papanikolaou, the founder of Freedom One Life, started the company to enable wheelchair users to live the life they choose.

Mr Papanikolaou, who has cerebral palsy and uses a powered wheelchair on a daily basis, was frustrated by constantly breaking down and being stranded by unreliable powerchairs. He decided to address the problem himself and founded the business in 2013.

The Series 5 is the result of years of R&D and thousands of hours of testing over 20,000km in real-world conditions across the globe. It delivers reliability, a ground-breaking 40km real-world range, a compact on-board charger, and a fully customisable and future proof user experience.

It is also compact and agile enough to get into the narrowest of spaces on buses and trains, and has an integrated flight mode to make air travel easy, quick and safe. 

Mr Papanikolaou said: “Powered wheelchairs exist to liberate and empower people like me, yet most powerchair users have their life choices restricted by limited range, breakdowns and fear of being stranded. This can mean that users avoid travel, face social isolation, and risk unemployment.

“I met people who were just as fed up of having to plan their lives around their powerchairs as I was. I set up the company with a mission, to stop powerchair users like myself from living in fear of being let down by their powerchairs, and instead live the life they choose.

“In creating the Series 5, we have designed a powerchair that combines lived experience with industry leading design. Test drives in our powerchair leave huge smiles on users faces.

“This fundraise will allow us to take the Series 5 to full commercial launch, including the manufacture of demo chairs for the well-established distributor market across the UK and Europe, as we seek to become a leader in a market that is expected to more than double in value to £9.24 billion globally by 2027.”

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