Portadown inventor to launch revolutionary new travel crutch
A RETIRED Portadown taxi driver has developed a revolutionary new crutch he hopes to one day see in use at the Paralympic Games.
Alastair Moore (54) is the creator of the portable Ambulo crutch and believes the simple invention can make life easier for those who suffer with disabilities and movement difficulties on a daily basis.
An amputee above the knee in one leg, the entrepreneur has used his own experiences to create a product he feels can make a lasting difference to people's lives.
"Any time I ever travel I would have had to take extra-sized luggage to accommodate crutches and there's added cost and inconvenience with that. I had looked about and there are folding crutches on the market, but they don't meet the needs of what I consider to be the disabled community."
Four years ago Mr Moore began the journey to create Ambulo - a mobile crutch that is not only easily portable fitting comfortably in hand luggage, but can be attached to a wheelchair meaning the user does not require someone else to get the crutch from behind their seat and can sustain more weight than a standard travel crutch.
Complete with a number of additional features, including a revolutionary hand-grip that spreads the pressure evenly on the hands and wrists the product is already making waves in the industry ahead of its launch later this year.
"This is our first product and if we can get this going we then want to be able to offer standard crutches and offer them in a range of colours. If someone wanted a rainbow crutch for example we'd like to be able to do that. It would be great also to work with athletes involved in the Paralympic Games."
First involved with the former Craigavon District Council's 'Go For It' business programme, Alastair was then put in touch with the Northern Ireland Technology Centre at Queen's University, where he worked with a young designer developing a concept.
From there the inventor has benefited from a funding grant from E-Synergy (now replaced by TechStart NI) of £32,000 towards a prototype and then through money received following success in a London Design Council competition, which has helped bring the product towards public release in the "next couple of months".
Recognising the importance of funding for budding entrepreneurs, Mr Moore is an ambassador for the £50,000 Inventor Prize, aimed at finding the UK's everyday inventors, life-hackers and DIY disruptors.
Run by Nesta and supported by Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the prize will give ten of the best new inventors £5,000 and personal mentoring to develop their invention, with one overall winner then chosen to receive £50,000 to turn their dream into a reality in September 2018.
"A lot of people think you need a degree in engineering to be an entrepreneur, but you don't, you just need to have an idea and have the tenacity to go for it. I'd love to see people in Northern Ireland give it a go, because at the end of the day you've nothing to fear except fear itself," Mr Moore added.
Entries to the Inventor Prize are now open. For more information visit: http://inventor.challenges.org/