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Garbutt + Elliott brokered investment deal gives bug push to Surfaceskins’ hand hygiene product range

The manufacture of an innovative hygiene product, which can kill germs and superbugs such as coronavirus, in hospitals, care homes and other public buildings, is being stepped up after an investment deal brokered by Yorkshire accountants and business advisers, Garbutt + Elliott.

Surfaceskins are self-disinfecting, alcohol gel pushpads that mean that people no longer have to touch dirty doors with their hands which the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention says spread 80 per cent of infections.

Two product designers, Adam Walker and Simon Scott-Harden, came up with the Surfaceskins concept after observing how people avoid touching dirty doors, and developed Surfaceskins – the name of the business and the product – in eight years with Leeds-based technical textile consultancy, the Nonwovens Innovation and Research Institute Ltd (NIRI) which also funded initial development before securing investment from Brian Waligora who joined Surfaceskins as chief executive in 2017.

The Leeds manufacture of Surfaceskins, which has four patents covering UK, EU, USA and Japan, is being increased to meet vast sales potential, after Garbutt + Elliott attracted significant but undisclosed private investment from a Yorkshire entrepreneur who built his own £100m turnover manufacturing business.

NIRI managing director, Chris Fowler, who has 25 years’ experience commercialising novel medical and hygiene products, says: “Surfaceskins’ has huge market potential having been developed with efficacy, ease of use and low cost at the forefront of our strategy and our new investor joins when his experience will have the biggest impacts.

“Surfaceskins was initially designed for healthcare premises to protect high-risk patients against healthcare associated infections (HAIs), which cause thousands of UK deaths annually, and to help people with depressed immune systems. Key areas were intensive care units; special care baby units, neonates, elderly wards and isolation units.

“However, as more sectors have become aware of Surfaceskins, we are receiving interest from restaurants, fast-food outlets, cruise ships, hotels, schools and offices. Virtually any commercial, or public, door with a contamination risk is a market opportunity.

“Garbutt +Elliott quickly realised the scale of the Surfaceskins’ potential, enabling them to recommended the most suitable investment partner who was the first introduction and is a perfect fit in terms of experience, timing and Yorkshire roots!”

During product development, Surfaceskins underwent validation trials in NHS laboratories, which confirmed that they kill many germs, bacteria, and viruses such as coronavirus in seconds. As the pushpads self-sterilise in seconds they reduce the risk of users transmitting germs, protecting other door users and preventing infection transmission.

Trials at three local schools and a Leeds hospital showed that Surfaceskins increases users’ overall hand hygiene, though washing and soap dispenser use, by more than 75 per cent which will help with the control of panendemics such as the current global Coronavirus.

Garbutt + Elliott corporate finance partner, Tony Farmer, who introduced the investor and arranged investment terms, says: “The combination of a simple, but ingenious, idea, expert business development and major market interest means, Surfaceskins has huge growth potential and we are pleased to have contributed by securing the latest investment.”

Garbutt + Elliott’s 11-strong corporate finance team, which operates from its Leeds and York offices, has managed more than 200 deals throughout the UK across a wide range of commercial sectors.