Bionic arm start-up gets F1 backing

Open Bionics founders Joel Gibbard and Sarah Payne Picute: Open Bionics

Open Bionics founders Joel Gibbard and Sarah Payne Picute: Open Bionics - Credit: Open Bionics

A pioneering West Country robotics start-up which makes advanced 3D-printed prosthetic limbs has received £4.6million in funding – including cash from Formula One team Williams.

Open Bionics, was founded in 2014 by Backwell villager Joel Gibbard, and Samantha Payne, and it has attracted the attention of Disney and James Dyson.

Formula One’s Williams Advanced Engineering Group has led investors in the company’s latest round of funding that has enabled the ‘tech for good’ company to expand into the North American market.

Open Bionics makes superhero-themed advanced prosthetic hands for children and adults.

The 3D-printed Hero Arms is the only device affordable enough to be covered by the NHS, and has been working with them with the goal of being able to offer the life-changing devices in clinics throughout the UK.

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In May, the Stoke Gifford-based company launched private sales of the multi-grip devices, which has since become the best selling bionic hand in the UK.

The company has partnered with Disney, and video game company Square Enix to create themed limbs based on popular characters.

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Ms Payne said: “This funding enables us to serve multiple international markets and we’re thrilled to finally be able to deliver bionic hands to amputees and people with limb differences in the USA later this year.

“We’re exceptionally excited to receive this support from such high-calibre investors who not only offer financial backing but incredible experience in commercialisation, measuring impact, and engineering high performance hardware.”

Mr Gibbard added: “This investment provides crucial capital to help Open Bionics deliver on its vision of making advanced prostheses available to a much wider audience of limb-different users.

“We look forward to offering the Hero Arm in multiple international markets and continuing the development of great products that solve challenges within mobility and independence.”

Matthew Burke, head of technology at Williams Advanced Engineering Group, said: “We are excited to work with the team at Open Bionics and share our expertise in product development systems.”

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