Innovative Lancashire stretcher business UKDI has significantly increased its orders in its first six months, thanks to NHS specialists in business support and Boost.
UKDI produces the Recovery+, a lightweight, highly flexible three-part foldable stretcher made entirely from plastic. The product is designed to provide a range of safe options for emergency responses and has now been in NHS operational use for nearly two years, with encouraging reviews.
The stretcher was developed by UKDI director Nick Gray, who previously worked at high security Rampton Hospital, and his son-in-law Paul, a former police officer.
Through Lancashire business support agency Boost and the Innovation Agency, the Academic Health Science Network for the North West Coast, the business was able to secure contracts with four NHS trusts.
Nick said: “The stretcher is produced with simple principles, in particular the way a person would like to be treated, with a specific focus on compassion, dignity and safety for carers and patients alike.”
Nick and Paul initially developed the Recovery+ stretcher to manage individuals exhibiting challenging behavior with greater safety and efficiency. However, after consultations with a wide range of frontline emergency responders, they discovered that the stretcher could be used in much more diverse applications.
The company cut its links with its original manufacturer to allow greater flexibility in design and manufacturing costs. This enabled Cleveleys-based UKDI to broaden its product portfolio to better meet the needs of the NHS, at affordable prices.
Boost is Lancashire's Business Growth Hub and is led by the Lancashire LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) and Lancashire County Council, and supported by funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
County Councillor Michael Green, Cabinet member for economic development, environment and planning said: "Many passionate companies start with a great product, and then focus on getting it to market. By partnering with Boost, we help you to think about the next stage and objectively assess opportunities.
"All growing businesses should tap into this resource. Boost and Lancashire County Council are committed to supporting your growth, providing you with an additional resource and enabling you to better focus on what you need to do. We work with you over a period of time, to help you to understand more about your business.
"Come to us with an open mind and start your Growth Conversation today – you never know where this could lead."
The Innovation Agency is the Academic Health Science Network for the North West Coast, part of the NHS.
The two organisations work together in Healthcare Business Connect Lancashire, a support programme helping Lancashire businesses working in the healthcare and life sciences sector to make the right connections in the NHS.
Nick said: “The Innovation Agency has helped us to recognise that customers’ needs are varied, reflecting the different segments of the market. Although we had made a great product with passion, attention to operational detail, care and dedication, it needed to be something customers could afford, at a competitive market price and now we have been able to achieve exactly that.”
“We continue to receive great support in the form of workshops, commercial advice, clinical and consumer design improvements, along with priceless introductions to connect with key decision-makers in the NHS. This has helped feed growing awareness, resulting in confirmed orders and expressions of interest.”
Steve Adams of the Innovation Agency said: “Nick and Paul have great drive and commitment and a highly marketable product. We were able to use our expertise and experience to direct the company towards the right people to talk to in the health service.”
Boost Business Lancashire has received £3.8m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for ERDF. Established by the European Union ERDF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information, visit www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.