Centaur Robotics is looking for new investors to take its revolutionary personal electric vehicle into production by the end of this year.
The Centaur signals a more active and accessible future for the elderly and the disabled and will change attitudes towards people with impaired mobility.
By 2024, the global market for powered electric vehicles will be worth £7.5 billion, the result of an ageing population with a demand for independent living and the means to pay for it.
The Centaur also offers a timely solution for health care providers looking to limit infection through automation in the wake of Covid-19. Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, awarded Centaur Robotics a grant of £50,000 in May in recognition of the vehicle’s future role in reducing exposure to viruses in care homes and hospitals.
This third fund-raising phase is seeking £1.5m in exchange for a 23 per cent equity share, valuing the company today at just over £5m.
“We’re now at the stage where people are putting in money because it’s commercially viable.”Chris Hay, md, Centaur Robotics
Gap in the market
The Centaur began life in 2014 when company founder David Rajan failed to find a wheelchair that suited the needs of his son Alfie, who has cerebral palsy.
Award-winning designers and engineers are now ready to begin full production by the final quarter of 2020.
They have perfected Centaur’s revolutionary self-balancing technology, which creates a smooth and responsive ride. And its sleek and lightweight design make the Centaur a desirable and stylish accessory for the “reluctantly old”.
Users of the Centaur will be able to navigate busy pavements, reach high objects on shelves and look standing people in the eye. Its tight turning circle and small footprint make crowded pubs easier to negotiate, opening up new opportunities and broadening social horizons.
About 1,000 machines will be built in the first run. The retail price is a very competitive £7,999 including VAT, although anyone registered disabled gets it VAT free in the UK.
Health monitoring on the move
Managing director Chris Hay, said: “Our early investors got involved because they liked the concept and wanted to help the less mobile. They had a personal reason to see us succeed.
“But we’re now at the stage where people are putting in money because it’s commercially viable. We’re also really pleased to have won this grant – it’s a vote of confidence in the Centaur from the government.”
Centaur Robotics has developed hardware and software, built working prototypes and full scale models and secured IP and trademarks in all the relevant markets.
Advanced data capture technology will allow health monitoring on the move, help with navigation, and gather information for planners seeking to improve the environment for the less mobile.
Made in the UK
The Centaur will be launched first in the UK, where it will also be manufactured, followed by the EU and then the USA, home to half the world’s powered wheelchair market.
Sales will initially focus on individual consumers, but business to business and the mobility as a service sector where there are a high number of assisted journeys are important revenue streams.
The Centaur will become a major labour-saving device where there is a scarcity of low-skilled workers to act as porters in major transport hubs such as airports.
Centaur will also limit disease transmission in hospitals and care homes by reducing time helping people in and out of wheelchairs and moving them around.
Up to 30% tax relief
By 2024, gross profits are projected to be in the region of £8m from an annual turnover of £13.1m.
Centaur investors will also qualify for tax relief of up to 30 per cent under the UK government’s Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS).
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