A young engineer and entrepreneur from Sheffield has had her invention for helping the elderly and the infirm named as the Best Established Product at the British Healthcare Awards.
Ruth Amos developed her StairSteady device when she was just 15, as part of a GCSE course, after being challenged by her teacher to create a product which would allow the elderly and stroke victims to use stairs independently.
The device took off as a fully-fledged commercial product after Ruth won the Young Engineer for Britain competition in 2006 and resulted in her launching a family-run business, which is firmly established in the growing mobility sector.
StairSteady recently began being sold through a network of 10 dealers throughout the UK and is on target to distribute 1,000 handrails in the next year.
However, Ruth wants to increase that figure considerably and take annual sales past £3million.
Only last month, she appointed Sheffield-based national law firm Irwin Mitchell to provide advice on how to expand overseas through a series of licensing and distribution agreements.
The firm is currently advising StairSteady on its plan to license its intellectual property rights to a number of overseas-based manufacturers and distributors.
Judges for the British Healthcare Awards hailed Ruth’s invention as “a low- cost solution which has the potential to help people stay in their homes for longer - a simple, effective and affordable solution to mobility problems.”
Organisers say the British Healthcare Awards demonstrate the strength of the assistive technology industry.
This year’s awards attracted an unprecedented numbers of entries from companies across the UK, ranging from small start-ups to major national companies.
Entries included a range of innovations, products and services designed to help people to be more independent for longer and, in many cases, reduce the need for hospital admissions.
* For more details about the StairSteady visit the offical web site at www.stairsteady.net.