Inventor of world-first seatbelt for pregnant women thanks ‘pot luck’ on joining forces with Bolton University

By Chris Bailey

Unborn babies’ lives may be saved thanks to a revolutionary seatbelt designed by a Bolton-born inventor – who is now seeking investors for the project.

The piXie Pregnancy Seatbelt Harness is designed to protect a mother’s bump by fastening belts around the breastplate, limiting the risk of harming the foetus in the event of a crash.

And Stephen Weston – who teamed up with Bolton University for testing – could not believe his good fortune when he found out the world-leading Bolton Automotive and Aerospace Research Group was on his doorstep.

In tests lead by crash investigation expert Professor Clive Chirwa, the entrepreneur could prove his invention passed – and even improved – safety standards for pregnant women.

“Oh it was brilliant, pot luck – absolute pot luck,” said Stephen, who now lives in Bury.

“The university have a crash test laboratory which sounds grand but in effect it’s a catapult with a big concrete block in the end.

“As soon as I talked to Professor Chirwa about it he said he understood the concept and thought it was a great idea.

“What he actually said was that ‘it’s going to make you a lot of money’ – I’ve not seen any of this yet!

“But it was great that we had his influence.”

It has been a long process for Stephen and his company Technological Systems – he is now trying to attract investors to secure manufacturing funds after designing the seatbelt back in 2003.

“It was a frustrating process – it’s all the red tape,” he added.

“The key problem we’ve had over the years is being able to get certification.

“It’s government and European regulations which have held it back for about five or six years but we’ve persevered through that.”

Now Stephen sees light at the end of the tunnel after his wife gave birth to the idea a decade ago when she heard a pregnant woman had been prosecuted for not wearing a seatbelt.

“I sketched a design out on an envelope and asked her if there was anything like that on the market, and she said ‘no there isn’t’!’,” he explained.

“Initially I dismissed it – I was so surprised that it hadn’t been thought of yet.”

Image courtesy of Discover Channel via YouTube, with thanks.

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