Sarah and Simon Scaife, creators of AirBar.
(L - R): Simon and Sarah Scaife, creators of AirBar.

Entrepreneurial Yorkshire couple plan global expansion with ‘life-saving’ invention

An entrepreneurial couple who invented a ‘life-saving’ road safety device are preparing for global expansion.

Sarah and Simon Scaife created AirBar, which can be fitted to a vehicle to create a safer zone for those working at the roadside. The AirBar encourages passing vehicles to give more space, and alerts cyclists to the dangerous blind spot when passing a turning vehicle.

As a result, weekly accidents in their business, Nuvech, have dropped to zero, sparking interest from road recovery companies, builder’s merchants and highway maintenance bodies, who encounter similar problems.

Sarah knew she needed help to develop the business, which is based in Ripon and has a factory in Leeds, so she registered for the University of Leeds’ Help to Grow programme, designed specifically to give business support to senior leaders in small and medium businesses across all sectors.

Although Sarah was adept at figures, she felt she needed assistance with matters such as devising long-term strategies, human resources and identifying new markets.

Sarah explained: “Neither me nor my husband Simon went to university or knew anything about the manufacturing industry. My background is in finance and my husband had many years’ experience in the car transport industry, having worked up from being a driver to an operational manager.”

They set up a company training people how to operate car transporters but found it difficult to eliminate all risks. A major advantage of the system is that it can deploy automatically with the left turn signal at slow speeds, alerting cyclists to the vehicle’s dangerous blind spot. It took two-and-a-half years to develop the finished product.

Sarah continued: “There was nothing else like it on the market. We developed it as a modular system which meant that if a part needed replacing, you didn’t have to replace the whole piece of equipment.

“This makes it very cost effective, and it can be tweaked to work for different types of vehicles. It also has powerful LED lights so is even more visible at night-time which is particularly important of course.”

She has now sold the AirBar across Europe, Japan and Australia, with their largest customer being an American company that is in talks with manufacturers to fit it to all auto transportation trucks as standard.

By Matthew Neville – Senior Correspondent, Bdaily

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