Dubai unveiling for Scots carbon fibre wheelchair

A SCOTTISH business is to demonstrate a revolutionary new wheelchair at a leading Arab health exhibition in Dubai this week that it hopes will drive its exports in a key international health market.

TV presenter and disabled campaigner Sophie Morgan in her Carbon Black chair
TV presenter and disabled campaigner Sophie Morgan in her Carbon Black chair

Nairn-based Carbon Black Systems will exhibit the eponymous Carbon Black chair – made almost entirely of carbon fibre, the lightweight material that shaves seconds from motor racing star Lewis Hamilton’s lap times – at Arab Health, the Middle East’s biggest healthcare expo from 25 to 28 January.

Three times the strength of steel, Carbon Black’s fibre is moulded into “an ergonomically designed form that is ­stylish, lightweight and futuristically minimalist in appearance”, the company said.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The business, which employs seven at its headquarters in Nairn and nine at its manufacturing base and showroom in Bicester, Oxfordshire, has fin­ancial backing from Highland Venture Capital and Scottish Enterprise.

The group’s engineers make carbon fibre components for the leading F1 racing teams.

Carbon Black System claims the product is “arguably the most compact rigid frame lightweight chair on the market”, and says it “dismantles in seconds” into easy to transport parts, none heavier than 3.5kg.

The company says the wheelchairs are bespoke for the customers and “can even include LED lighting so that hidden kerbs and other obstacles are visible to users at night”.

Carbon Black System says the product is specifically aimed at active independent users, with starting prices of about £7,500. The company says each wheelchair can be custom-built to the users’ requirements, style and colour as well as other enhancement extras.

In addition, the makers say it absorbs bumps for a smoother ride. It says the carbon fibre is “a smooth material that won’t hurt the user’s hands,” leave black marks around their home or scratch their car.

Steve Ryan, group managing director, said the business saw the Carbon Black chair “not just as a mobility and independence aid, but a perception revolution that is changing the wider public’s perception of wheelchairs and their users”.

He added: “The Middle East is an interesting and unique market – a juxtaposition of the conservative and the innovative. Arab Health 2016 is the largest convergence of technologies in healthcare (in the region) so a great place to showcase the wheelchair.

“The world is our market and whilst we continue to be focused on our UK business, we can clearly see great opportunities that exist for our products in the large export markets.”

Ryan added that in international markets there was “an increasing appetite for innovation with healthcare”. He said the group’s wider vision was to offer enhanced mobility and help change the everyday perception of chair users across the globe by tapping into new markets.