Third monthly winner of Merseyside Innovation Awards announced

Merseyside Innovation Awards 2013

Liverpool based REthinkthings has been named as the third monthly winner of the Merseyside Innovation Awards 2013, sponsored by MC Vanguard, Mitchell Charlesworth's Corporate Finance division, in recognition of designer and manufacturer Ilsa Parry's creation of a new type of walking aid which she is hoping to bring to the mass market.

As a change from her normal portfolio of items, Ms Parry has created the dual-function 'Flo' device, which helps people with mobility impairments get out of chairs and also walk.

She told Awards co-sponsor Insider: "I was working as a carer in homes and hospitals while I was studying design and felt so frustrated watching people struggle.

"Many walking aids and disability devices instantly draw a stigma or can even be intimidating to users, such as cranes and hoists.

"I wanted to create something that looked absolutely nothing like anything else you can find on the market."

It was while lecturing and teaching design that Parry won a place on Design for Life, a BBC2 show hosted by French designer Philippe Starck which she described as "The Apprentice for designers". She won through to the stage where participants spent eight weeks in Starck's studio working on a product which "would help humanity" and was eventually crowned the series' overall winner.

The 32-year-old's prize was to spend nine months in Paris with Starck making further progress on Flo. She then founded her company in earnest 18 months ago and now employs two freelancers and two interns.

Flo is made from carbon fibre in Derbyshire and finished in Scotland but Parry admits its £358 price tag is currently the biggest hurdle to selling more units.

If she won, Parry said she would put the £10,000 towards a £25,000 pot needed to research and develop a plastic injection moulded version, expected to retail for about £90.

Monthly winners are chosen during the first half of 2013 with an overall champion named in July which will take home £10,000 in cash and £4,000 worth of consultancy fees.

2013 marks the 18th year of the Merseyside Innovation Awards, which were founded by Brian McCann, Partner and Director of MC Vanguard Corporate Finance. The Awards recognise Merseyside companies with fewer than 50 staff who have developed and brought to market innovative ideas and products.  Details of how to enter the awards together with further information can be found here.

Other sponsors of this year's awards are: Plus8, Brabners Chaffe Street, C-Tech Innovation, Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, Insider, NatWest, the North West Fund,  University of Liverpool and WP Thompson.

This press release was originally found on Insider News North West and the article can be found here.

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