• Thomas Shelbourn

WilkinsonFuture Invests in Armaros Through The British Design Fund

Armaros has developed a revolutionary new material for use in equestrian body armour and beyond.

WilkinsonFuture has made an investment in Buckinghamshire equestrian start-up, Armaros, through our continued participation in the British Design Fund. Armaros has secured a £100K investment to bring their new innovative type of flexible body armour for horse riders to the market.

Armaros is led by founder Esmeralda Tuomi, a former show jumper who previously suffered an accident while horse riding. The body protector Esmeralda was wearing at the time may have saved her life, but like my many fellow riders she found existing products to be very rigid and uncomfortable. For this reason, many equine enthusiasts, show jumpers and cross country riders, choose to rarely wear body armour, if at all.

Esmeralda explains: “I had always found body protectors to be very uncomfortable, but my accident really hit home to me the importance of wearing one. When I started asking fellow riders about their experiences, I quickly found that most riders don’t wear one because they find them incredibly stiff and restrictive. That was a lightbulb moment for me.”

Esmeralda started working on a solution to the problem while on a Global Innovation Design course, backed by the RCA and Imperial College London. Working alongside a team of engineers, a new type of material was developed to replace the bulky, uncomfortable material used in most equestrian body protectors today. The new material uses biomimicry design techniques, which are inspired by structures found in the natural world. Inspired by the human spine, Armaros' new material will be used to craft a new generation of body armour for horse riders, combining an incredibly supportive yet flexible design for maximum protection and ample comfort.

"I quickly found that most riders don’t wear one because they find them incredibly stiff and restrictive. That was a lightbulb moment for me"

Armaros hopes to launch the new body protection - named Guardian Angel - within the next year. Beyond the equestrian use case, the team sees opportunities in other sectors for the new material, ranging from professional sports to defence.

Damon Bonser, CEO, British Design Fund, said: “The investment committee were really impressed by Esmeralda’s strong knowledge of the equestrian sector, which makes up a large percentage of Armaros’ initial market. We were also impressed by her determination to succeed. Armaros has huge potential to scale and a clear and compelling purpose. We look forward to working closely with Esmeralda and the team, to bring the product to market and start saving lives.”

British Design Fund (BDF) works with ambitious British start-ups who are ready to scale-up and build thriving stand-out businesses. Alongside capital investment, BDF provides expert mentoring to support such companies to accelerate their growth plans.

WilkinsonFuture is a major investor in the British Design Fund and also sits on the fund's investment committee.