Scotlab, based in Glasgow, has worked with Scottish universities to develop the Altium-i10 a devise which simulates the effects of extreme altitudes for use in the sports and fitness markets.
In 2012 Scotlab approached the University of Strathclyde to develop their existing prototype and create a portable devise that would simulate the effects of high altitudes and could be used by athletes to improve performance.
To cover the cost of the project, which included computer-aided design and 3D printing, they secured Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences Knowledge Exchange Hub funding and approached Interface to apply for a Scottish Funding Council (SFC) Innovation Voucher.
Innovation Vouchers are aimed at encouraging new business and academic partnerships and provide up to £5,000 to drive innovation, leading to new products, services or processes. Scotlab successfully received £4,500 which allowed them to review their exiting prototype and develop a portable version. The resulting patent and know-how was licensed to the company taking them one step closer to product testing, attracting investment and eventually production.
Following the results from their initial collaboration with the University of Strathclyde, Scotlab approached the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) to evaluate the new prototype’s capabilities.
Academics from UWS ran field tests on club level triathletes which provided data that would allow the academic team to produce an independent report demonstrating the performance capability and functionality of the device.
To cover the cost of the project, and ensure that the testing could be carried out quickly, Scotlab and UWS approached Interface for an SFC Follow-On Innovation Voucher. The Follow-On Voucher provides a business with up to £20,000 of match funding and would allow Scotlab to receive the validation results sooner putting them into a stronger position to target their primary market in the sports and fitness sector, and position them for future growth in health and wellness sectors.
Dr Chris Easton, Senior Lecturer, Institute for Clinical Exercise and Health Sciences, University of the West of Scotland, said:
“The funding from the SFC allowed us to translate what was essentially a very good idea into a commercially viable performance aid for athletes. The first steps in the research process involved working extensively with Scotlab Ltd and the design team to explore the functionality of the device. Following this, we subjected the initial prototypes to robust research testing in the laboratory to assess the potential performance benefits for athletes. The research also involved consultation with the athletes who used the device to explore design and aesthetics improvements prior to going to market. Along with the other members of my research team, I am delighted we were able to contribute to the successful commercialisation of this innovative product”.
The research demonstrated improved aerobic capacity, efficiency, power lactate threshold and turnpoint allowing Scotlab to validate their claims and prove that their product was indeed effective at simulating altitudes of up to 20,000ft.
Encouraged by the results of these tests Scotlab were keen to continue their relationship with UWS and decided to create a work experience opportunity for one of their PhD Students.
Thanks to the introduction of a new funding scheme from SFC, the Student Placement Innovation Voucher, Scotlab were able to apply for up to £5,000 to cover the cost of a PhD or Masters student who would work in the premises, alongside their product design engineers, helping to produce a market ready product.
The funding, administered by Interface, gave Chris Monaghan, a PhD student, a unique paid work experience opportunity allowing him to present technical aspects of Scotlab's device alongside the existing commercial team. He became a Technical Translator and acted as a go-between assessing and communicating how design changes affected functionality and performance.
Chris Monaghan, PhD Student said:
“This was highly beneficial for me. It allowed me to learn from the Scotlab team and gain excellent experiences across different areas of innovation, design, marketing and communication. It allowed me the opportunity to communicate my ideas and gain further consultancy work with the Scotlab team and be involved in their fantastic journey in taking a new and exciting product to the world of sport.”
The combined funding from Scottish Funding Council’s Innovation Voucher Schemes has enabled Scotlab to create effective and sustained partnerships with academia using their combined expertise, facilities and technologies to create, test and develop a final product - the Altium-i10 Altitude Simulator (www.altium-i10.com)- that will help create stronger, faster athletes with a greatly improved endurance capacity.
Alan Montgomery, Managing Director of Scotlab said:
“The Innovation Vouchers bridged a gap in our funding and expertise and thereby helped us to achieve our goals. The Altium i10 is now on the market and generating revenue to underpin company performance and growth.”
For more information on Scotlab and their new Altium i10 altitude simulator please visit Altium i10 - Altitude Simulator
Please note that Interface administers the Innovation Voucher Scheme on behalf of the Scottish Funding Council. All funding applications are reviewed on a case by case basis by the Scottish Funding Council, guidelines can be found here.