A former showjumper has secured a major £100,000 investment for her burgeoning, Bucks body armour business designed to protect riders.
Founder, Esmeralda Tuomi, is a former Finnish showjumper who suffered a bad accident while riding.
The business is called Armaros and based in Great Missenden, it's special new invention is an innovative type of flexible body armour for horse riders.
The £100,000 grant has been provided by the British Design Fund.
While Esmeralda credits the body protector she was wearing at the time with saving her life, she found it to be very rigid and uncomfortable.
After speaking to other members of the equestrian community, she found that many riders didn't wear body armour for this reason.
Esmeralda said: “I had always found body protectors to be very uncomfortable, but my accident really hit home to me the importance of wearing one.
"When I started asking fellow riders about their experiences, I quickly found that most riders don’t wear one because they find them incredibly stiff and restrictive. That was a lightbulb moment for me.
“What has been really important for us is that the design is accessible, scalable and suitable for mass manufacturing, so the maximum number of people can potentially benefit from it.
"After many iterations, we have managed to engineer a product that works with existing manufacturing techniques and which also has potential for many other markets. I’m excited to have the backing of British Design Fund and their support in bringing our design to market.”
Esmeralda believes by using biomimicry design techniques she has created a suit that is flexible yet incredibly supportive.
Armaros hopes to bring its product to market within the next year, but the suit must be tested first.
If successful, the business hopes it can expand its design to other sports, but will first concentrate on breaking through in the equestrian market.
Damon Bonser, CEO, British Design Fund, said: “The investment committee were really impressed by Esmeralda’s strong knowledge of the equestrian sector, which makes up a large percentage of Armaros’ initial market.
“We were also impressed by her determination to succeed. Armaros has huge potential to scale and a clear and compelling purpose. We look forward to working closely with Esmeralda and the team, to bring the product to market and start saving lives.”
The British Design Fund targets ambitious British startups who are ready to scale-up and build thriving stand-out businesses, it also offers mentoring services.