LDC Top 50 2023
Philip Ross and Martin Izod
When product design engineers Philip Ross and Martin Izod met at Glasgow Art School, they both had the same ambition. “We knew we wanted to design products that improved people’s lives,” says Izod.
They started Safehinge Primera in 2009 and their first product was a ‘no-gap’ door hinge for schools to prevent children trapping their fingers. Five years later, they pivoted into the mental health sector, designing specialist anti-ligature doors and alarms to reduce suicides. Their products are used by more than 80 per cent of NHS care providers in the UK, as well as customers in the US and Australia.
We’re both about protecting the underdogs. This is a deeply personal project for us that goes way beyond salary or shareholder value.”
What’s your company’s purpose?
Martin: Our purpose is to develop best-in-class products that help protect people through vulnerable times in life. When our friend was sectioned, we went to visit him and were shocked by the environment. It was almost an unchartered design challenge. It also tapped into some of our own experiences of feeling vulnerable. My parents divorced when I was little and my mum moved to Germany; Phil was bullied at school and had a tough time coming out to his friends and family. We’re both about protecting the underdogs. This is a deeply personal project for us that goes way beyond salary or shareholder value.
Where do you see the business in five years?
Philip: Barring 2020, we’ve been growing at about 30-40 per cent per annum and we want to continue that growth trajectory. In the next five years, we’d like to grow our international sales from 12.5 per cent to 50 per cent, take our products into new sectors such as prisons and enter the healthtech space.
How do you make the co-founder relationship work?
Philip: We’re yin and yang. We’re good at different things and we’ve learned to complement and support each other over the years. We’ve both experienced burnout at different points so we encourage each other to take time away from the business. We’ve always got each other’s backs.