Funding boost for innovation in feminine care
A company producing the first tampon design innovation in 80 years is set to upscale its business after receiving £1 million funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
Callaly’s Ewa Radziwon and Thang Vo-Ta
Callaly will use funding secured through Innovate UK’s loan programme to scale up production of its Tampliner, a novel combination of tampon and pantyliner.
Invented by a gynaecologist, the UK-made product has already been nominated for an Inda Hygienix Innovation Award, which champions the most disruptive hygiene and personal care products.
The Tampliner’s unique design requires bespoke production equipment, which Callaly plans to fund using the innovation loan. The equipment will allow the firm to scale up production to meet demand.
By 2019, the company expects to produce five million Tampliners per year, 100 times the current output. It also predicts that the increased production will create 22 new jobs in quality control, materials, engineering and research and development as well as marketing, operations and customer service over the next two years.
“Innovation loans are ideal for us. It’s one thing to invent a product, but for full and successful commercialisation you need to be able to produce it consistently, economically and at speed,” says Thang Vo-Ta, Callaly’s Chief Executive Officer.
“If you want to build something right, to the highest standards and without any compromise, while keeping all your research and product development here in the UK, you need patient partners. That’s exactly what we’re getting.”
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The Tampliner was invented by Callaly’s Chief Medical Officer – gynaecologist Dr Alex Hooi – who was inspired to develop the product after treating women dissatisfied with existing, off-the-shelf products.
“Dr Hooi listened to thousands of women talk about their issues with fem-care products, which they described as uncomfortable, inconvenient and prone to leaks,” Thang Vo-Ta adds.
Dr Hooi then contacted the London College of Fashion, looking for a designer to develop the idea further, source materials and make prototypes for user studies, and found garment technologist Ewa Radziwon.
“I liked the idea of having such a critical role in developing a brand new product and I was genuinely excited about how innovative it was, in an area that could really help people,” says Radziwon.
“I also believed in the founders – they wanted to make a better product for people with periods and to give us more choice where there hadn’t been any design innovation in decades.”
Callaly developed and tested its first prototypes of the Tampliner using Innovate UK proof of concept.
Callaly’s Tampliner is available now via a monthly subscription service. It is made from organic cotton, wraps itself and is sterilised.