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Keeping cool searching for a better cold pad solution

After injuring her ankle and being advised to use an ice pack to reduce swelling and pain, Kay Heffernan searched in vain for some kind of lightweight cold pad that would wrap around her ankle without leaving a soggy residue and still enable her to move around freely. All the products she tried had notable disadvantages. They were either frozen too hard to wrap around the ankle or the gel dispersed around the pack, offering no benefit to the specific injured area. Often the wet residue from the melting ice pack meant it was impractical and even quite unpleasant to wear.
As a result of this experience, Kay designed the Kooley Cold Pad. In developing the product, her team concentrated on perfecting a unique Cushioned Cold Pad. It has the ability to remain in a totally pliable state, even when kept at extreme low temperatures, as low as -23°C. It can retain the cold temperature for the advised 20 minutes plus required to help with reduction of swelling and inflammation.
The Kooley Cold has the ability to fully mould to the contour of the required areas, with the added benefit of the cushioned liquid form making the weight of the Kooley Cold Pad minimal, compared to the standard ice cooling pack, so the Kooley Cold Pad is much easier to manage and is more comfortable to use. Due to the cold pad not freezing, it can be placed directly to skin or clothing, with the further added benefit of no defrosting, so the user is not left with wet residue, allowing the users to place the cold pad direct over clothing or use in bed, which is not possible with the common ice pack.

Independent validation for a new product

Having designed the Kooley Cold Pad and potentially changed the way cold therapy can be used across a wide range of applications, the next logical step for Kay was to commercialise it. Attending I2C workshops provided all the information required to prepare the product for
market, as well as the opportunity to network with other start-ups.
Working with I2C’s engineering department was a real game changer for the Kooley Cold Pad as it lead to the product being independently validated. It was tested under controlled environment conditions in the I2C research centre at Thornton Science Park and an independent report was produced to demonstrate how successfully it retains low temperatures. I2C also formally confirmed its flexibility that enables it to mould to required areas and maintain pliability.

Animal and human patient evaluation

A second important step was when I2C’s Senior Project Engineer arranged for Manchester University to complete an independent fabric peel test on the Kooley Cold Pad to show how the material used was suitable. The I2C team also arranged an introduction to the equine department at Reaseheath College. This resulted in ‘real world’ testing when the cold pads were used as a cooling therapy for horses and compared to the performance of existing ice packs being used in the equine market. Instead of traditional cold pads which are often heavy
and uncomfortable for an injured, stressed animal, the Kooley Cold Pad has been shown to be an incredibly lightweight, practical, comfortable wraparound cooling therapy for horses, with no cumbersome strapping required.
Finally, a further introduction was provided, this time with the NHS Innovation team. As a result, Kay is now in talks with Warrington Hospital’s orthopaedic department, regarding undertaking evaluation of the Cold Pad, while focus groups will shortly be testing Cold Pads to provide independent feedback to the Countess of Chester hospital.

Kay Heffernan says, “Without the high level of outstanding support we received from all departments in the I2C project we would have really struggled to reach this stage so early in the development of the company.
Working with the engineering department gave us the opportunity to test and independently validate that our product reaches the required standard. The further introductions provided to other institutions have proved absolutely invaluable in our journey to commercialisation.”

The I2C initiative was part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund. SMEs registered or trading in Cheshire and Warrington, who met the eligibility criteria, were eligible to apply for support from the I2C project. Applicants had to have a turnover of less than €50 million and employ fewer than 250 employees. In addition to I2C’s in-house team of engineers and specialist equipment, SMEs that enrol in the project had access to the world-class facilities at the University of Chester, via its state-of-the-art skills, equipment and resources based at Thornton Science Park and the NoWFOOD Centre in Chester.

The I2C project has now finished but if you are a business looking for access to facilities and expert growth support, please contact the University of Chester’s Business Growth team either by visiting www1.chester.ac.uk/business-growth, emailing businessgrowth@chester.ac.uk or you can call 01244 512 477.