Keeping adventures open to everyone, Equal Adventure combines a love for the great outdoors with the importance of inclusion. It sets out to inspire and provide the resources for those living with disabilities to lead active lifestyles and take on their own outdoor pursuits.
And with everything from expeditions of a team of six men with seven legs traveling 240 miles down the Coppermine River in the Northwest Territories of Canada, to canoeing the Ganges from source to sea having taken place so far, it’s safe to say that Equal Adventure lives up to its aim of inclusive adventuring.
Taking a negative situation and turning it into something positive, Suresh Paul, Director and Founder of Equal Adventure, began working with those living with disabilities after his dream of becoming an outdoor pursuit instructor was curtailed when he damaged his back at the age of 19. Through his new work, Suresh quickly discovered those with additional needs did not have the appropriate equipment available to live active lifestyles and knew he needed to change this. His original creation, the kite climbing harness, was the first of many pieces of pioneering equipment, that has been developed by Equal Adventure.
Based in a factory in Grantown on Spey, the organisation focuses its workings on inclusion, looking at inspiring and resourcing each individual’s access requirements. Living through three core values: searching for perfection, standing up for something and making sense of situations, Equal Adventure ensures its products and services echo each value from start to finish. With every task, the team set out to help those in need, using an individualised approach to cater to each person’s requirements. And of course, innovation is at the core of everything Equal Adventures does, from the initial research to production, implementation and training, to ensure they deliver nothing short of excellence.
After reaching out to HIE we were given access to industry experts and advised on the best courses and workshops for us to go on which was hugely beneficial.
With innovation crucial to their product and service development, Suresh always knew it would be an integral element of their business. He approached the HIE Innovation team in 2014 to find out about the support and advice they can provide. He said: “Innovation is our life blood. It’s not only needed for designing and creating our products and services but we needed to innovate the way we work as a business too.
He continued: “After reaching out to HIE we were given access to industry experts and advised on the best courses and workshops for us to go on which was hugely beneficial. We were also given a grant called Innovate Your Business which really helped kickstart us on this journey.”
After discussion with the HIE Innovation team, it was agreed a central database for the Equal Adventure staff to simultaneously work and store information on should be the first step to innovate the business and streamline communication. Discussing the importance of the database, Suresh said: “As a company, we’re quite flat in level, so everyone has an equal say. This means we all need to listen to everyone’s opinions on a project and ensure they are taken onboard.
“Keeping track of all of these inputs, especially while I’m away for prolonged periods of time to meet with customers, meant things could easily get lost or be missed. Now, thanks to the database, it allows us to join up all these dots easily and from anywhere. We’re completely cloud based so everything is online, from our research, design, production, training and outdoor activities to our sales. Everything we do now is done through the database.”
Talking of his experience with HIE’s Innovation Team, Suresh said: “I would highly recommend the innovation service to other companies. There’s a real need for innovation support and HIE can provide the tools for that. Our Account Manager was fantastic and helped us in any way he could. Since working with the team, we’ve really seen the business move forward and the grant we secured was also hugely beneficial.”
Reflecting on his innovation journey, Suresh acknowledges the non-stop momentum it creates, saying: “Before you explore innovation I would suggest getting a good night’s sleep, because once you start it doesn’t stop. Looking back on my innovation experience so far, I believe the following three words best describe the Equal Adventure team’s innovation adventure: passionate, tenacious and relentless. From the day we fused innovation into our mindset, I’ve had a lot more ideas than I ever imagined. They just don’t stop.”
Stemming from the collaboration with HIE, innovation has been key to the changes and progression of Equal Adventure and has helped the business grow from being an outdoor design organisation to a full design company and more. Suresh is keen to not let Equal Adventure’s journey end. Constantly thinking of new ways to innovate, he is already working on a new top-secret project that, like everything else in the business, will have equality at the core of its existence.
Businesses looking to sign up to access HIE’s innovation services can visit hie.co.uk/hietime or call 0300 013 5041 for expert info on what funding and innovation resources are available from HIE.
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