Michael Harkins’ company, Turtle Pack, which is based at the University of Stirling Innovation Park, won a total of £110,000 in prizes from the Scottish Edge Fund to develop the business. The funding will be using the funding to build the team, manufacture the product, expand the intellectual property and grow the brand.
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Harkins, who hails from Livingston, said: “I am truly thrilled to win this money which will help me develop my product and my business – Turtle Pack – a swimming aid for children which aims to remove anxiety, build confidence and develop life skills.”
Harkins’ eureka moment is said to have came from his experience running a swimming school, where he could see how children using traditional swimming aids such as arm bands and floats were developing the wrong swimming technique.
He then set out to invent a swimming aid to solve these problems. Turtle Pack works by reducing the buoyancy required in stages, as a child’s confidence and co-ordination improves. Their arms are free so they can swim with no restrictions and in the correct horizontal body position.
The progressional aspect challenges the swimmer to work harder. It also rewards them visually each time a “shell” is removed.
John Rogers, chair of the University of Stirling Innovation Park, said: “Michael is quite rightly recognised as one of Scotland’s top young entrepreneurs. His business journey began when he took part in the Sports Innovation Challenge, and I’m certain he’ll be an inspiration to other aspiring student entrepreneurs.”