Joel Gibbard and Samantha Payne image
Co-founders CEO Joel Gibbard and COO Samantha Payne

Bristol-based bionic limb manufacturer Open Bionics has attracted a £1.5million investment from F1 giant the Williams Group, making up part of a £4.66million growth round as the business plans to scale up.

Founded just over four years ago by CEO Joel Gibbard and COO Samantha Payne, Open Bionics is an award-winning designer, manufacturer and supplier of affordable bionic limbs. Having won a raft of awards over its short time including the James Dyson Award for Engineering and a Wired Social Innovation Award, the company has also entered into high-profile collaborations, developing Disney and Pixar franchise-themed bionics for children.

The Bristol-based manufacturer made headlines for its first commercial product, the Hero Arm, which uses 3D printing and simplified mechanical systems to produce low-cost bionics, making the devices accessible to those previously unable to afford it.

The round of investment will now see the company look to continue to build on the momentum of the past four years and expand its product range with ambitions to become a market leader in bespoke prostheses and a global player in the sector.

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The £4.66million round of investment was made up of three identical contributions by Downing LLP, Ananda Impact Ventures and the Foresight Williams Technology EIS Fund of £1.5million each, with Rathbone Nominees making up the rest.

In addition to the £1.5million investment by the Foresight Williams Technology EIS Fund, the investment will also see Open Bionics receive invaluable production and manufacturing support.

Open Bionics image

The Fund is an enterprise investment scheme investing in SMEs producing pioneering and disruptive technology and represents a collaboration between private equity firm Foresight Group and Williams Advanced Engineering – the technology and engineering services business of the Williams Group.

Williams Advanced Engineering has committed to throwing its technical weight behind the young prosthetics company, providing additional production engineering assistance as the company scopes out export markets.

Joel Gibbard, CEO of Open Bionics, commented: “We’re thrilled to receive this investment from the Foresight Williams Technology EIS fund. We’re excited to have support from Williams on scaling our manufacturing process as we begin serving the United States and other overseas markets.”

Matthew Burke, Head of Technology Ventures, Williams Advanced Engineering, said: “Williams Advanced Engineering is excited to work with the team at Open Bionics and share our expertise in product development systems. Alongside the Fund’s investment, Open Bionics will benefit from the engineering and technology experience at Williams and the investment management and growth experience of Foresight’s team of investment professionals. Together this aims to be an ideal combination to deliver for the sector, its customers and the wider UK economy.”

The completion of Open Bionics’ growth round follows the announcement in December 2018 of British prosthetics manufacturer Blatchford’s majority stake sale to CBPE Capital, as private equity investment interest continues to rise in the sector.

Andrew Bloxam, Senior Investment Manager at Foresight said: “The Fund’s strategy is to support innovative UK businesses with disruptive technologies. Open Bionics is a great example of engineering innovation and disruptive technology that has potential to grow the market significantly. We look forward to working with the management team as they grow their business and helping with the commercialisation of this life changing technology.”

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