Drop of academic expertise helps startup taste success

Published: 9 April 2013

A startup company is on track to taste success after receiving a splash of expert help to bring their first product to market.

A startup company is on track to taste success after receiving a splash of expert help to bring their first product to market. 

Fitsip, a product which aims to allow runners to remain hydrated while keeping their hands free, was designed with input from the University of Glasgow’s School of Engineering.

Keen runners Belinda Goldsmith and Christine Manson came up with the idea for Fitsip three years ago. Frustrated with having to carry heavy and inconveniently shaped water bottles while exercising, they envisioned a small, light pouch of fluid which could be held in a forearm-mounted band.

FitsipAlthough they had previously collaborated on the running of award-winning soup company Simply Organic, they had no experience in designing products to bring to market.

Christine said: “We had no idea how to turn our idea into a functioning prototype that we could actually test with runners. Thankfully we were able to benefit from the engineering expertise available at the University of Glasgow.”

After the Fitsip team made initial contact with the University, the School of Engineering’s Dr Ian Watson provided assistance with the design of the replaceable plastic container held within the armband.

The initial research was supported by a grant of £5,000 from the University’s First Step Award programme, which aims to provide financial aid for the early stages of partnerships between academics and businesspeople.

Dr Watson said: “I was intrigued by the need to design a container for water that would work as an armband. After designing a few prototypes, we could see that they weren't operationally successful enough to put out to live functional testing with runners.  We examined materials issues and drinking performance and were able to rule out a great number of design routes before proceeding.

“Additional funding from the Sporting Chance Initiative, which specialises in supporting sports projects, meant we were able to create a market-ready product which exactly met Christine and Belinda’s expectations.

“Fitsip is a perfect example of how the knowledge base of the University can be turned to commercial ends, and I’m very pleased to have been involved in its development.”

After 3 years of development, prototype testing and design refinement, Fitsip is now on the market.

Belinda said: “Without Ian’s input, we wouldn’t have a product, so we’re delighted that Fitsip is now available for sale on our website in time for the running season to start in earnest. We’re currently developing plans to have Fitsip available in specialist sports stores and we’re also considering options to expand our range with new products."

To find out more about how businesses can collaborate with academics from the University of Glasgow, visit http://www.encompass-scotland.co.uk/

For more information on Fitsip visit www.fitsip.com


For more information contact Ross Barker in the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 8593 or email ross.barker@glasgow.ac.uk


First published: 9 April 2013

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