Bionic arm inventor 'may quit Wales' over lack of funding

Sol with his bionic arm
Image caption Sol was named after a solar eclipse that was taking place as he was born

An inventor of a prosthetic arm for children has said he will leave Wales if he cannot get the financial support he needs to build his business.

Ben Ryan created the artificial limb after his 10-day-old son Sol's arm was amputated because of a blood clot.

He set up Ambionics and recently moved into the new M-Sparc science park near his home on Anglesey, but has said he cannot get the funding he needs.

The Welsh Government said it was still talking to Mr Ryan about funding.

Mr Ryan recently made the shortlist for a UK Inventors prize, having initially developed the bionic arm with help from Pontio Innovation centre at Bangor University and later Warwick University.

He said he had been unable to get funding to develop the business because he does not fall within the criteria for different pots of money from the Welsh Government or the Development Bank of Wales.

He also said he was told on a technicality he could not use the £43,000 raised through crowd-funding and donations to get match funding from the development bank.

Image caption Ben Ryan gave up his job as a psychology lecturer to develop the business

He said: "I've taken a £30,000 pay cut to focus on this. I thought by now we'd have found a grant or investor. Would we have had these problems if we were based in Cambridge? The answer is no."

He said there was more financial support available in England and, while talks continue with the development bank about other possible sources of funding, he is looking to move to the north of England close to universities he has been working with.

"I've lived on Anglesey my whole life, I've never moved away. A year ago I didn't have any competitors, but I've got competition now so I need to get a move on. It's incredibly frustrating."

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: "Ambionics has already received significant advisory support from Welsh Government and we are in continuing dialogue with the company about financial support options. "

The Development Bank of Wales said it had a dedicated team which specialises in investing in technology businesses and "funding is available for businesses at all stages from pre-revenue to growth capital for established companies".

It said the bank can and does invest alongside crowd-funding platforms, providing their other investment requirements can be met.

Image caption Sol's left arm was amputated just below the elbow

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