Award-winning enterprise going swimmingly



Michael Harkins with Hannah Bardell MP and his award

An innovative flotation device created by Heriot-Watt graduate, Michael Harkins, has won £110,000 of investment in the Scottish EDGE competition.

Entrepreneur Michael, also a part-time swimming teacher, believes his fun swimming aid Turtle Pack, which combines freedom of movement with streamlined support, will help encourage more children to learn to swim.  His aim is to address the alarming statistic that 40% of children in the UK cannot swim and that drowning is the third highest cause of accidental death in Britain.

Michael graduated in 2016 with a Master's in Chemistry from Heriot-Watt and developed the concept in parallel with his degree.  He plans to take the product into production now that he has won both Scottish EDGE 10, aimed at identifying and supporting Scotland's up-and-coming entrepreneurial talent, and the Made in Scotland Young Innovator of the Year award.

He has credited the thread of entrepreneurship, integral to Heriot-Watt's approach, with helping him to get him this far with his development plans, particularly the support from Research and Enterprise Services, Watt Ventures in partnership with Santander, and the Converge Challenge team, based at Heriot-Watt.

Michael is the youngest and only one of two people to win the Scottish Edge Treble comprising £100,000 in the Scottish Edge and £10,000 in the Wildcard category, and previously the Young Edge prize of £10,000. He said: “I'm absolutely delighted to have won the Scottish Edge! This will be life changing for Turtle Pack.”

Dr Gill Murray, Deputy Principal (Enterprise and Business) said: “Turtle Pack is a fantastic start-up, congratulations to Michael who we are very proud to have hosted as our entrepreneur in residence.  We are celebrating several recent successes with investment amounting to almost £3M across start-up and spin-outs including Chromacity, Optoscribe and Turtle Pack.”