Knowsley rescue equipment manufacturer Reach and Rescue saw off stiff competition to take the 2016 Merseyside Innovation Awards title and a £10,000 first prize.
At the Crowne Plaza in Liverpool the MIA judges – BBC political editor Arif Ansari, Neill Briggs, director of product development at Supercar manufacturer BAC and a former MIA winner and Howard Rose, who won the first ever MIA award with Bootle-based Mast Group – decided that Reach and Rescue’s lifesaving telescopic pole for marine, fire and rescue services stood out in the final.
In their presentation Reach and Rescue highlighted how their product reduces risk for the emergency services by allowing lifesavers to remain in a safe zone while a variety of tools can be fixed to the end of the pole for those in danger to hold on to or attach themselves to for safe recovery.
Before Reach and Rescue emergency services had to rely on throw bags and ropes, or risk sending individuals into hazardous environments.
Sean Burke, Director of Reach and Rescue, said that the unique design features of the pole were transforming search and rescue efforts.
“Rescue and emergency services don’t take chances,” he said. “So when 70% of UK fire authorities are using this product as part of their toolkit you know you have created something worthwhile.”
Created using the strongest carbon fibre the pole is able to reach 57ft, making it the longest rescue pole in the world. Its strength means it can support multiple casualties and it has more than 20 tools which affix to the end making it suitable for a range of rescue situations on land and sea.
“We are so delighted to win,” said global sales director Jo Taylor. “We really believe in our product and so far we have grown organically. But this prize will help us move towards SOLAS (Safety Of Lives At Sea) accreditation.
“That will make our product globally accredited and we hope will really spark our growth. We manufacture all our products here in Merseyside and we reinvest 15% of our turnover in local suppliers. Our plan is to start export more directly from Liverpool as we grow.
“But what keeps us going is knowing our products are saving lives. We received a testimonial this week from a water safety team, WUKSART, who had used our pole to rescue a runner in a Total Warrior Race in Leeds who slipped down an embankment and got into difficulty in a river. That is what motivates us.”
Reach and Rescue were up against two other diverse finalists who each received £1,000.
Immersive Interactive of Southport have brought together projection, light, sound, environmental simulation and scent with bespoke software to create interactive classroom spaces for schools and colleges, special educational needs schools and emergency services training.
Extreme Low Energy from Formby has created an energy-efficient way to deliver power to businesses that saves 80% of the energy wasted by converting electricity from AC to DC and back using ethernet cables and battery storage installations.
“This year’s competition delivered three great and diverse finalists,” said Brian McCann, MIA founder and partner and director of MC Vanguard Corporate Finance.
“Congratulations to Reach and Rescue. They have a great plan for their prize but more importantly, they have a great product which I think the judging panel felt deserved to be recognised for its impact on lives, not just economically on Merseyside but in real life-or-death emergencies.”
For more information, go to www.reachandrescue.com
Top image: Sean Burke and Jo Taylor of Reach and Rescue with the MIA 2016 judges Neill Briggs of BAC, Howard Rose of Mast Group and Arif Ansar, political editor for BBC North West Tonight.