A robotics startup that designs bionic limbs for children in the style of superheroes has raised £4.6 million from investors including the Formula 1 team Williams.
Bristol-based Open Bionics became the best-selling multi-grip bionic hand in the UK after launching its Hero Arm in 2018, and plans to use the funding to grow to international markets.
Using 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies, the firm has managed to drastically reduce the cost of building robotic prosthetics, allowing the bionic limbs to be covered by national healthcare systems in the UK and abroad.
"The Hero Arm is a custom made myoelectric prosthetic. This means users, amputees and people with limb differences below the elbow, can control their new bionic fingers by squeezing the muscles in their forearms," Open Bionics co-founder Samantha Payne told The Independent.
"We're delighted to have the support from the Williams F1 team. We've already spent quite a bit of time together, with us learning from their design and manufacturing techniques. It's a fantastic relationship between two teams mad about great engineering."
Open Bionics teamed up with Disney in 2015 to make its superhero-themed Hero Arm bionic arms, allowing amputees and people with limb differences are able to choose between different superhero designs, ranging from Marvel's Iron Man to Star Wars' BB-8.
Wearers of the Hero Arm can choose between different finger speeds and movements to allow them to pick up objects ranging from a small marble, to an entire shopping basket.
Other investors in the Series A funding round include venture capital firms Ananda Impact Ventures and Downing Ventures.
On top of the financial backing, the investors offer experience in commercialisation, which Open Bionics hopes will allow them to deliver bionic hands to amputees in the US later this year.
"This investment provides crucial capital to help Open Bionics deliver on its vision of making advanced prostheses available to a much wider audience of limb-different users," said fellow co-founder Joel Gibbard.
"We look forward to offering the Hero Arm in multiple international markets and continuing the development of great products that solve challenges within mobility and independence.”
Matthew Burke, head of technology ventures at Williams Advanced Engineering, added: “Williams Advanced Engineering is excited to work with the team at Open Bionics and share our expertise in product development systems."