Highlands & Islands

Nairn-based wheelchair inventor starts new venture

Andrew Slorance Image copyright Andrew Slorance
Image caption Andrew Slorance has designed luggage for wheelchair users

An inventor is making luggage for people with disabilities after leaving the company he had set up to create a new type of wheelchair.

Andrew Slorance, who was paralysed by a spinal injury when he was 14, launched wheelchair design business Carbon Black almost 10 years ago.

In June last year, investors in the venture terminated his role.

Nairn-based Mr Slorance has now started Phoenix Instinct. Wheelchair luggage is the new business's first product.

The inventor and entrepreneur hopes Paralympians travelling to Brazil for the Rio Games this summer will be among the first to use the items.

'Rude awakening'

Mr Slorance founded Carbon Black to design, develop and put on the market a new type of wheelchair, also called Carbon Black.

The business said, for legal reasons, it could not comment on Mr Slorance's departure from Carbon Black.

Mr Slorance, who accepted a settlement from the company following negotiations, said investors took a business decision to take control.

He said: "I guess I had a rude awakening.

"When you bring investors into your company, even one that you were the founder of, they have all the control and it is no longer your baby and they call the shots.

"2015 was a very tough year, but I pulled myself together and started a new company and developed a new product."

This month, Mr Slorance won £50,000 from business competition Scottish Edge for his new venture.

He secured £100,000 from the same competition last year but because of what happened at Carbon Black the funding had to be withdrawn.

Entrepreneurial Scotland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise have also been providing support to Phoenix Instinct.

'Starting again'

Paralysed following a fall from a tree when he was a teenager, Mr Slorance is keenly aware of the challenges faced by wheelchair users.

He said: "My situation means I am always trying to think of solutions to overcome problems.

"With luggage, it is difficult for those with spinal injuries to move it by themselves.

"My new product, wheelchair luggage, is a brand new invention that allows wheelchair users to transport their luggage while pushing their wheelchair at the same time."

He is also working on other product designs, though at this stage he is not ready to reveal what they are.

Mr Slorance said: "At the age of 47 I have found myself starting all over again, but I do feel I have the freedom now to develop my ideas."

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