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Funding award for smart wheelchair manufacturing facility in Moray

Published: 12/09/2023

A company in Moray is preparing to launch and manufacture new, smart, lightweight wheelchairs.

Andrew Slorance of Phoenix Instinct (image courtesy of Phoenix Instinct Limited)

A company in Moray is preparing to launch and manufacture new, smart, lightweight wheelchairs.

Phoenix Instinct Limited (PIL) a Forres-based company built its brand with an innovate luggage solution for wheelchair users.

The company has secured investment of up to £79,500 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to help towards the £137,000 costs of transitioning to an advanced manufacturing company.

From its premises at the Enterprise Park Forres, PIL has developed and will manufacture the high quality, lightweight wheelchairs made from carbon fibre. With an intelligent power assist the Phoenix i is the first ever lightweight, hybrid wheelchair to enter the market.

The aim of the company over the next three years is to become the leader in innovative products that facilitate independence for active wheelchair users.

PIL’s wheelchair luggage product was developed with HIE support for testing, development, and process design improvements based on different wheelchair types and customer insights. Phoenix bags are now sold in 28 countries and have brought travel independence to thousands of wheelchair users worldwide.

The development and sale of the luggage and related products helped to raise funds to support the company’s long-term aim to design and develop wheelchairs with increased functionality to improve independence for those with lower limb paralysis.

In 2020, Phoenix Instinct was one of five international finalists, and ultimately the winner of the three year-long Toyota Mobility Unlimited Challenge receiving a development grant for the smart wheelchair

The move to full scale manufacturing in Moray is expected to create two jobs and support three existing jobs. It will boost company turnover threefold, one third coming from international sales with Australia and USA key markets.

Scott McKnockiter, senior development manager with HIE in Moray, said:

“Innovation is a key driver for business growth, and that’s what this initiative by Phoenix Instinct is all about. With the success of its wheelchair luggage product, the company has a great opportunity to begin full scale manufacturing of smart wheelchairs, and in doing so, creating new jobs for Moray. I’m delighted we have been able to provide support and look forward to seeing the project develop.”

Andrew Slorance, founder and CEO of Phoenix Instinct, said:

“Support from HIE has been outstanding from day one when I first demonstrated a wheelchair luggage prototype to my account manager. It wasn’t long before we rented a unit at the Enterprise Park and began to grow the business. Developing products is very expensive and difficult for a small business to afford. Support from HIE goes a long way to getting us to market with the Phoenix i and continuing our journey to revolutionise technology for wheelchair users around the world.

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