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Funding Available For New Technology Development

A pioneering new initiative has been launched to provide assistance for new technology innovations in the saddlery industry.

The Equitech project brings together major industry players including BETA, WES, leading manufacturers, the Centre for Engineering Excellence and Advantage West Midlands.

A joint bid for funding was successfully put forward by Walsall Saddlers and the Centre of Engineering Excellence in Wolverhampton, to Advantage West Midlands which has provided £98,000 funding for the provision of expertise for the next two years.

The money will be used to provide technical assistance and open gateways to information for projects using and developing new technology in the manufacture of saddlery products, including computer aided design, which will allow saddlers to create detailed images for new designs and innovations to help move the industry forward into the 21st century.

Phil Wilson leading the project for the CEE said: "It is hoped that the funding made available for the Equitech project will really help in developing new methods for saddlery design and understanding of how important the fit and structure of equipment is in proving comfort for the horse.

"Safety issues will also be examined with the stress and strain put on tack being able to be measured thanks to new technology and testing methods. One of the other projects under consideration include a proposal to develop CE marking for saddlery which would reinforce the safety message.

"The new technology will be able to assist in the ability to reverse engineer saddle trees or even map out a horses back, on which saddlers will be able to create new saddle designs and developments," added one of the members of the steering group.

"This is a very exciting initiative and one which should move design and technology into a new realm. We are keen to hear from companies in the industry who may already be working on projects or have project ideas in development that may be able to tap into some of the funding and expertise we have available", added Phil Wilson

There are already a number of projects proposed including saddlery for disabled riders, harness and metalwork schemes and fully engineered saddles, all using computer aided design.


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