2021 – Koalaa’s year in pictures!
Updated: Sep 6, 2022
January & February
We started the new year with a bang, working hard to produce prosthetics for all the children who had register for a free prosthetic as part of Project Limitless.
Spearheaded by Douglas Bader Foundation and with the support and collaboration of a number of charities in the limb difference community, the project aims to provide every UK child who needs one with access to a free prosthetic. At Koalaa, we were thrilled to be the chosen service provider and to be helping children do all the fun things they really want to do!
March & April
As well as our soft prosthetics, support is a huge part of what we do here at Koalaa and sitting at the heart of that support are the Koalaa Limb Buddies. Sarah and Amy joined us in March. Both have personal experience of limb difference and offer our users advice and support every step of the way.
Then in April, we were thrilled to hear that our founder, Nate, had received a huge accolade - being named as part of the prestigious Forbes' 30 Under 30 Europe Class of 2021! The listing highlights the brightest young entrepreneurs, leaders, and rising stars.
May & June
In May, we went on to secure a £150k investment from British Design Fund, an investment fund which only supports British, purpose-led product start-up businesses with the potential to scale-up and make a difference.
While in June, our founder Nate was busy in front of the camera, preparing for our first national advertising campaign! Koalaa was one of three start-ups selected by Metro Bank to benefit from some free promotion, which included social media ads, videos and even features in both the Guardian and Independent.
In Spring, we also received FDA approval meaning we could start shipping our prosthetics to users in North America, which was a milestone moment for us!
July & August
Alongside our ALX sleeve, suitable for those with below elbow limb differences, in July we officially launched the Paww – a prosthetic designed specifically for those with partial hands or fingers.
The slip-on soft fabric sleeve allows for wrist movement the use of partial fingers and users can also clip on a range of different tool attachments, depending on the task or activity they'd like to do.
And the team had an absolute blast in August, attending the LimbBo Foundation Adventure Day 2021! The event saw 50 families from across the UK coming together for a day of fun and games in the sunshine.
As for the Koalaa team, we were there to provide families who were interested in receiving one, with a free Koalaa prosthetic arm funded through #ProjectLimitless. In total, we went on to provide 35 children at the event with a Koalaa prosthetic – a number of which were made there and then, much to the delight of the families in attendance who could watch them being put together before their eyes!
September was a huge month for Koalaa, as it saw Nate and Niall jetting off to Sierra Leone! Working alongside local partners, they gained a vital insight into the desperate need that exists for prosthetics in the country and also how Koalaa might best help.
We also announced a new partnership with ‘Bionic Man’, aka Michel Fornasier, and his charity Give Children a Hand, who we are going to be working with to bring our soft prosthetics to young people in Switzerland.
Back on home soil, our ALX sleeve walked away with the title of Top Design Winner in the industrial and life science design/aids/prosthetics category at the European Product Design Awards!
Koalaa was once again a winner! This time, taking the top spot in the Enabling Equipment category of the OHMI Trust’s annual competition!
The OHMI Trust is a charity that works to inspire the creation of musical instruments that can be played by anyone regardless of physical ability. Our sleeve and tools designed for holding drum sticks, guitar picks and bows, were all chosen because of the ‘clever way in which individuals can explore a range of instruments with the same root device. Each provides sufficient stability to allow someone to begin their musical journey and then develop their skills for a more flexible solution which requires more arm control.’
In October, we also officially launched our new sleeve cover range, starting with a selection of ‘DIY cover kits’, including a special Halloween themed design. All created by the very talented Jess.
In November, our founder Nate was named 'Entrepreneur for Good' (London, E. England) as part of the Great British Entrepreneur Awards. He was also recognised as a Diversity & Inclusion Champion, highlighting him as an entrepreneur who is 'making bold strides in their efforts to improve diversity and inclusion within their business, industry and wider society.
And rounding off an amazing month, members of the Koalaa Community joined I Am Possible Foundation for an afternoon of surfing at The Wave in Bristol! It was a chance for users to hit the water with our newly designed surfing prosthetic arm, under the expert guidance of The Wave’s specialist instructors.
In December, Project Limitless 2.0 officially got underway! And this time, it’s aiming to do even more, having been extended to offer support to all young people in the UK under the age of 18 with an upper limb difference.
We’re delighted to continue as service provider of choice for the project and look forward to helping even more young people in the coming months.
As for 2022…
We can’t wait to support all the new families coming to us through Project Limitless 2.0 and this will also be our first year providing recurring support to families already involved with the project. Hearing their feedback and seeing the photos and videos they kindly share with us, is always a highlight of our day.
Alongside this, we’ll be extending our services overseas, building on our charity links and attending even more family events (which the team absolutely loves doing!).
We will also be unveiling some new prosthetic designs and tools, which will enable us to offer support to those with an even wider of range of limb differences.
Plus, lots of other exciting things are in the pipeline, which we can’t reveal just yet! So, watch this space!