Hartpury’s Tech Box Park sparks a new range of biodegradable mental health products


Two of Hartpury’s Tech Box Park members have joined forces to create a novel range of green products designed to reduce anxiety, manage stress, and keep focus for people living with ADHD, mental health, and dementia.

AJW Solutions UK Ltd, one of the South West's leading manufacturers of machined and fabricated products, together with Novazera, a company developing Biopolymer’s have worked together in Hartpury’s ‘sandbox’ environment to create an environmentally friendly range of ‘Samboards’ – innovative (Sensory Activated Motor-skills) Sensory Pads.

Proven to alleviate the effects of cognitive conditions, including dementia, the Sensory Pads have been designed so that when they are touched, they promote positive cognitive responses and release endorphins by distracting the brain from negative situations and feelings.

The Samboards Sensory Pads have seven different textures which provoke different cognitive reactions, providing a range of purposes. These include supporting breathing exercises; improving concentration; calming; and improving hand control and fine motor skills.

The members have used their base at Hartpury to develop the product range including different weights and colours, moving away from producing synthetic plastic products towards Novazera’s more sustainable and environmentally friendly product.

Andrew Western, CEO of AJW Solutions UK Ltd and Samboards said: “I am enthusiastic about our products and the mental health and well-being benefits using our ‘touch and feel’ products bring to our users. The testing and trialling using Novazera’s new Biopolymer products is a brand-new innovation for us and something that, we are extremely excited about.

“We aim to develop more products in our range using this alternative to plastic and develop and roll out new products specifically designed to support mental health and wellbeing. Our products could be used in a range of settings from dementia patients to students and farmers.”

Brian Powell MD from Novazera commented: “It’s great to work alongside Samboards during the development of their sensory pads, and even more satisfying to know that the collaboration through Hartpury has led to a real-world use of our Biopolymers. Having the opportunity to demonstrate how Agricultural by-products can be transformed into objects that have real benefits makes us extremely proud.”

Hartpury’s £2 million Tech Box Park facility funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the GFirst LEP ‘Getting Building Fund’ and the Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust is dedicated to enabling the growth of innovative local businesses looking to develop new or existing products and accelerate them into the Agri-tech market.

The Tech Box Park was opened on site in July 2022, underpinning Hartpury University and Hartpury College’s commitment to shaping the future of digital farming and the next phase of a ten-year strategic vision to provide world-class agricultural facilities, research and education.

The first phases of Hartpury’s 10-year Digital Innovation Farm vision included the launch of a £2 million Agri-Tech Centre in 2019 and a new dairy parlour in 2020. Students use these advanced facilities to carry out research and build the critical skills to contribute to addressing the global food challenge and advancing animal welfare and productivity.

Hartpury University offers a range of agricultural undergraduate and postgraduate degrees that prepare graduates to enter the land-based sector. This includes undergraduate courses in BSc Agriculture, with specialist pathways in Crop Production, Livestock and International, as well as new MSc in Applied Agricultural Sciences.

Sensory pads are available from: samboards.co.uk

Image (left to right):  Brian Powell, Novazera and Andrew Western AJW Solutions UK Ltd and Samboards in one of the Digital Innovation Farm Tech Box Park units.

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