Touch Bionics ‘back in black’ after i-limb launch

The firm's growth was driven by the launch of 'i-limb ultra revolution'. Picture: Getty
The firm's growth was driven by the launch of 'i-limb ultra revolution'. Picture: Getty
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ARTIFICIAL limb maker Touch Bionics is poised to swing back into the black following the launch of the world’s most advanced prosthetic hand.

The Livingston-based company, which was spun out from NHS Scotland in 2003, grew its sales by 23 per cent last year to £12.3 million, accelerating from the 17 per cent rise during the previous 12 months.

Touch Bionics remained tight-lipped over its exact profit figure but a spokesman said earnings before interest, tax and depreciation (Ebitda) had been “positive” and that the firm “hoped” to post a post-tax profit once its preliminary results are audited and finalised.

Chief executive Ian Stevens added: “We are pleased with our 2013 performance and are looking forward to continued growth in 2014.”

The firm’s growth was driven by the launch of “i-limb ultra revolution”, hailed as the world’s most-advanced bionic hand.

Sales were also boosted by the launch of two apps, which allow doctors and patients to programme the i-limb using their mobile phones.

The firm posted a slim profit in 2008 but has since been in the red, with accounts filed at Companies House showing the pre-tax deficit narrowed to £588,258 in 2012 from £1.4m in 2011.

The company’s profile was also raised last year when it supplied an artificial hand for use in the music video Scream & Shout by rapper and singer Britney Spears. The achievement was marked at Scottish Enterprise’s annual life sciences dinner, where the video was shown.

Technology used by the company began to be developed at the Princess Margaret Rose Hospital in Edinburgh in 1963.

David Gow joined the bio-engineering centre at the hospital in 1986 and continued to work on artificial limbs. Gow led the launch of the company, which changed its name in 2005 from Touch Edinburgh Modular Arm System (EMAS) to Touch Bionics.

Stevens joined as chief executive in May 2011 from Mpathy Medical, the Glasgow-based medical mesh maker that was sold for £22m in 2010 to Danish company Coloplast, marking an “important milestone” for Scotland’s business angel investors, who had backed the company.

He had previously worked at Dunfermline-based eye scanner maker Optos, first as chief financial officer and then later as head of its North American business.

Stevens has highlighted the United States as a key market for Touch Bionics, which last year hired Caroline Stretton as vice-president of international operations and Conal Harte as European sales director for its overseas push.

The firm raised £2.5m from business angel syndicate Archangel and the Scottish Venture Fund in 2011, a year after borrowing a similar sum from Clydesdale Bank.


Interview: Ian Stevens, chief executive of Touch Bionics