Helping hand for Strathclyde students with Fresh Ideas competition win

Prosthetic hand design by Metacarpal. Image by Metacarpal

Two students at the University of Strathclyde, who have created a new prosthetic hand concept, have been recognised in one of Scotland’s longest-running enterprise competitions, winning £1200 to move their business on to the next level.

James Swinburne and Fergal Mackie, of Strathclyde’s Department of Design, Manufacturing and Engineering Management, have been named winners of the Fresh Ideas competition for their business start-up, Metacarpal, after creating a cutting-edge and user-friendly design for a prosthetic hand.

Hosted by the Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE), more than 240 students from across the country applied for the 2020-21 competition, which is designed to accelerate early-stage ideas and help Scotland’s most ambitious young people grow an idea into a viable business or social enterprise.

From a shortlist of 14 finalists, James and Fergal’s innovation and outstanding entrepreneurial skills secured them one of the five top prizes of £1200 and dedicated support from business advisors to develop their revolutionary design.

James said: “We are really proud to have created an advanced and affordable body-powered prosthetic hand, which, through 3D printing, could be manufactured effectively anywhere. Potentially, it could revolutionise the industry given its cost-effective and simplistic design functionality.

“The funding and support from SIE will go a long way towards accelerating the development of the business, and it’s valuable to be a part of a dedicated entrepreneurial network that will open new doors for Metacarpal.”

Fiona Godsman, Chief Executive of Scottish Institute for Enterprise, said: “The judging panel were all incredibly enthused at the diverse and innovative start-up models brought forward by the finalists, with ideas promoting an inclusive agenda across a wide variety of sectors including healthcare, the arts and technology.

“The winning ideas have reinforced the thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem that we have here in Scotland. As Scotland’s longest-running national student enterprise competition for early-stage ideas, SIE has helped nurture thousands of start-up businesses which, in many cases, we have watched flourish into successful firms operating across the globe. It has been an incredibly rewarding journey and we wish all of our 2021 finalists the very best of luck as they venture into the next stage of their business.”

Metcarpal receives support from Strathclyde Inspire, the University’s flagship entrepreneurship programme, which offers entrepreneurial training and opportunities to every student and staff member. The Metacarpal team have been clients of Inspire since May 2020 and the company was registered two months later. It was a 2020 finalist in the Impact category of the Converge Challenge company creation competition and was among the first winners of the Strathclyde Inspire monthly competition.

Metacarpal joined the Strathclyde Inspire Accelerator in November 2020 and has since been mentored by Inspire supporter David Bowie, a Digital and Health Tech mentor. They recently met for the first time the Inspire Virtual Board, a group which meets monthly to support companies working towards investor readiness.