A company which makes padded seating for armoured personnel carriers and first class airline passengers is moving into the medical sector with its latest innovation.
Seating Design & Development is on the brink of winning an order to supply its MouleTec seating concept for wheelchairs in the NHS.
If successful, the order to make new cushions for thousands of wheelchair chairs in the country could be worth several million pounds.
The patented design of multi-density, anatomicallyshaped polyurethane foam cushions improve safety, health and circulation, evening out pressure points and allowing the seated body to have almost normal blood flow.
The benefits of MouleTec are about to be experienced in the health industry following a collaboration between SDD, Medilink West Midlands, the Centre for Healthcare and Development (CHID) and Advantage West Midlands.
Neal Marshall, technical director at SDD, said: "We already supply MouleTec to the British Airways fleet, which has around 6,000 seats fitted out in its first-class section, and recently secured a defence contract to supply 7,000 seats for armoured troop carriers.
"We realised that following positive discussions with Medlink WM, our technology could be transferred into the healthcare sector.
"The seats are applicable in healthcare because comfort is derived from reducing pressure. That can reduce the risk of pressure sores."
SDD is due to hear from the NHS in the next two months, and if successful could start producing the seats at its factory unit in Redditch which employs seven people.
Mr Marshall said: "This is a fine legacy to MouleTec's inventor, the late Terry Moule, who was a respected osteopath from Wolverhampton who treated a long list of sports stars including Lord Coe, Linford Christie, Fatima Whit-bread and Daley Thompson."
The initial inspiration for the MouleTec innovation emanated from Mr Moule's work on improving poor posture when sitting in a car which could lead to back pain.
Mr Moule's work was supported by one of his patients, entrepreneur Brian Hallett, from Essex, who is now managing director of SDD.
Mr Hallett said: "I had suffered back pain for five years before I first went to see Terry.
He was so passionate about poor posture in cars causing back pain that we decided to build the ultimate seat for health and comfort.
"It worked for me and I used my business experience to develop the invention to market."
The invention became a commercial reality two years ago after research undertaken by Professor Mark Porter, at Loughborough University, and Professor Andrew Bradbury at the University of Birmingham.
Christina Keey-Andersen, medical technologies cluster manager at Advantage West Midlands, said: "The medical technologies market is a growing part of the regional economy which offers significant opportunities for companies developing new products or wanting to move into the medical sector.
"The medical and health-care sector can be a difficult market for businesses to break into on their own, as it is highly regulated, so we are pleased to have been able to contribute to SDD's success by providing funding to Medilink West Midlands and CHID, who offer companies expertise and knowledge of the medical and healthcare sector."