Tomcat SNI image
Credit: Tomcat SNI Ltd

Tomcat, a specialist in accessible trikes, has collaborated with the Department for International Trade (DIT) on a written case study that reflects on Tomcat’s disability innovations over the past 24 years and export successes.

It looks at how DIT has helped Tomcat to export its disability products worldwide and increase its international sales by 41.6 percent from 2019-2020.

The case study has been published to coincide with International Day of People with Disability (IDPWD), a United Nations-sanctioned day that is celebrated globally on 3 December.

IDPWD aims to promote the rights of persons with disabilities while campaigning for greater inclusivity in society and the need to acknowledge people’s individual needs.

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According to Tomcat, the COVID-19 pandemic has seen more people take to the streets to get fresh air and exercise to combat the negative mental and physical effects of lockdown. During this period, Tomcat has helped disabled people get out and about with its bespoke disability trikes and equipment for children and adults with mobility issues and special needs.

Tomcat’s founder, Bob Griffin, set up the company after his partner wanted to find a solution to help her son, who has Angelman’s syndrome – a disability which causes severe learning difficulties, sleep disturbance and poor coordination.

His solution was to create a ‘Tomcat Trike’ with a ‘Carer Control’ system that allows a parent or carer to be fully in control of steering, braking and child’s safety, whilst giving them the freedom to exercise.

Tomcat SNI image
Credit: Tomcat SNI Ltd

The company has been supported by the Department for International Trade (DIT) to export and now its innovations are used by children worldwide.

Since working with DIT, Tomcat says its international sales have increased year on year, rising 41.6 percent from 2019-2020, including a £400,000 deal in Norway. The company also now exports to Holland, Russia, Belgium, Ireland, and Denmark.

Additionally, Tomcat has been supported by DIT to launch in Norway after successfully winning a NAV tender – the equivalent of the NHS in the UK.

Bob said: “Our DIT adviser Peter Hollingsworth has supported the company in innumerable ways, including advice on potential markets, accompanying us to export shows, while raising our awareness of legal pitfalls.

“The DIT has also supported us to attend seminars and workshops on a wide range of topics, introduced us to consultants on a range of specialist issues such as Intellectual Property, shipping and setting up separate companies in foreign countries.

“Most important of all is the mentoring and the advice that you get from experts who understand the difficulties and can steer you in the right direction.”

Tomcat’s founder added that one of the difficulties it experienced while exporting was introducing its disability trikes into countries with a capped, national grant scheme, which meant the company had to raise awareness around the benefits of innovative solutions in improving the lives of disabled people.

“I would not recommend attempting to export without DIT’s support… no one knows your business like you do, however, you’ll need expert advice, guidance, and mentoring to take your skills outside of your comfort zone and into a foreign market,” Bob continued. “Tomcat certainly wouldn’t have been able to achieve what we have achieved in our export plan without the advice of DIT’s advisers.”

Tomcat has won two Queen’s Awards for Enterprise in Innovation in 2013 and 2020, a D.O.T “S.M.A.R.T” award in 2005, winner and runner up for the product of the year award at Naidex, as well as several regional business awards.

Peter Hollingsworth, the company’s ITA, commented: “Tomcat Special Needs Innovation has achieved significant export growth over the past few years. This has come from endless hard work and determination to provide a solution for people with disabilities across the world.

“I would encourage any company who has aspirations to globalise their business to get in touch with us to see how we can support them on their export journey.”

Find out more about the range of support available and live export opportunities from the Department for International Trade on the website

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