Research & Innovation Services

University KTP to take UK manufacturing company into new market

arrangeCMYKThe University of Bath has been awarded a short Knowledge Transfer Partnership (sKTP) with Seating Direct International Ltd, a company with a wealth of experience in the seating industry.

Manufacturing in the UK, Seating Direct’s products include a range of office seating, such as back supports, reactive seat air cells and pumps.

However, addressing a market requirement for a wheelchair seat cushion, the University of Bath will be transferring knowledge to help take Seating Direct into the Assisted Living sector, by providing greater comfort and reduced risk of pressure sores for wheelchair users.

There are an estimated 750,000 wheelchair users in the UK, growing by 20,000 each year, and 5 million Europe wide.

The Innovative Design and Manufacturing Research Centre (IDMRC) at the University has created a variety of state of the art tools and methodologies to support the improved design and manufacture of products.

Having worked with many large engineering organisations on collaborative research and development projects, smaller organisations such as Seating Direct can benefit directly from implementing these advanced tools and methodologies for the purpose of the KTP.

KTP Programme Manager Clive Bailey says: “We look forward to working with Seating Direct to help develop their internal capabilities from core products associated with office seating to a new business model of selling a complete product in the medical sector”.

KTP Lead academic Dr Elies Dekoninck, Mechanical Engineering, says: “The KTP associate will certainly be challenged and will be involved in the whole design process from: fundamental research of the cushion geometry; technical development of the valve configuration; testing with wheelchair users; through to managing the medical certification process”.

The social benefits arising from the project are also significant, with the wheelchair cushion anticipated to provide a medically approved solution of pressure sores at an affordable price. Consequently this will reduce the need for continued care by healthcare providers and, most importantly, enhance the wheelchair user’s life on a day to day basis.

Industrial supervisor, Andy Daintree says: “We at Seating Direct International Ltd are delighted to be working in partnership with the University of Bath and developing a seat cushion that will genuinely provide relief and maximum comfort for all wheelchair users whilst at the same time offering excellent value”.

The KTP project, funded by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), will run for the next year and is expected to lead to two additional projects in design.

For further information on Knowledge Transfer Partnerships please contact:
Clive Bailey (KTP Programme Manager)
Tel: +44 (0)1225 38 5201