First start-up joins Sheffield Hallam’s £900k Wellbeing Accelerator

Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) has welcomed the first start-up business to its £900,000 Wellbeing Accelerator programme.

Footfalls & Heartbeats, a Nottingham-based intelligent textiles business, will access state-of-the-art laboratories, business support packages and specialist facilities to help bring its products to market and improve people’s quality of life.

Based at Sheffield Hallam’s new £14 million research centre, start-up businesses on the programme have access to world-class research and development that allows for rapid prototyping, precision engineering, laboratories for product testing, support networks and a clinical research centre.

The programme works with start-ups, SMEs, founders and agencies to accelerate the development of health and wellbeing technologies and applications.

These innovations have become increasingly important this year as people adapt their lifestyles to the social restrictions triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Footfalls & Heartbeats has patented a technique in which sensors are knitted directly into textiles. The technology can be applied to compression bandages, wound care, injury rehabilitation, baby monitoring and performance monitoring textiles for athletes.

The start-up has joined the Accelerator to validate its sensors against gold standard techniques and network with more than 30 mentors associated with the programme.

“The Sheffield City Region is a hotbed of innovation and we are incredibly proud of our world-leading medical technology and research,” said Dr Dave Smith, Chief Executive of the Sheffield City Region.

“We are delighted to welcome Footfalls & Heartbeats to the region. They will be the first of many firms to benefit from a unique partnership, which gives companies the business support, facilities and expertise they need to grow.”

Innovation in the time of coronavirus

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the first phase of the Accelerator programme will be delivered virtually, with technology used to provide mentoring and consulting support.

The second phase follows later in the year and will see small cohorts of businesses attending a series of intensive one-week onboarding sessions, followed by several weeks of further support.

The Wellbeing Accelerator at the AWRC is one of 20 University Enterprise Zones (UEZs), launched with a £20 million investment delivered by Research England, part of UK Research and Innovation.