Queen’s Birthday Honours for founders of pioneering Bristol bionic limb firm

October 16, 2020

The co-founders of Bristol tech firm Open Bionics, which makes innovative hi-tech prosthetic limbs for amputees, have been honoured in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honour’s List.

CEO Samantha Payne and COO Joel Gibbard, pictured, who founded the company four years ago, were recognised for services to international trade and engineering technology. 

Samantha met Joel in 2013 while working as a journalist. Having interviewed him and been inspired by his talent and ambition to make robotic hands accessible, Samantha joined him in launching Open Bionics.

Following a pitch by Samantha, the company won a hugely significant £800,000 development contract with the NHS for a world-first clinical trial of a 3D-printed bionic arm with children and young people living with disability.

In 2018, the firm launched the Hero Arm, the world’s first 3D-printed multi-grip bionic arm and last year Samantha and Joel raised £4.6m in investment to serve multiple international markets and deliver bionic hands to amputees and people with limb differences in US. The Hero Arm is now available in the UK, Europe and the USA.

Open Bionics has won more than 20 awards for business innovation, engineering excellence, and design. Samantha has worked with a number of charities and launched her own in 2018, receiving official charity status for The Open Bionics Foundation in 2019.

The foundation aims to make devices even more accessible by finding sponsors for financially disadvantaged children and adults.

Samantha said: “I was surprised and overwhelmed to receive the nomination. I would love to know who submitted me for consideration so I can thank them. It feels really wonderful to have your work recognised and acknowledged nationally.

“I’m grateful to be in a position where I believe in my work and I’m passionate about changing the industry and empowering people who are different.

“Great companies are built by great teams, so I’m grateful for the opportunity to reflect on how far we have come. I work with some truly talented, creative, motivated and supportive people.

“A huge thanks to the people at Open Bionics who have consistently gone above and beyond throughout the journey to build the dream.”

Joel added: “This award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the Open Bionics team, who have worked tirelessly to make prosthetic technology more accessible, useful and empowering for the limb-different community.

“I’m personally honoured to have been able to lead such a talented team of people, and to have them share my passion for democratising and advancing technology.”

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss congratulated UK exporters and business leaders recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for their exceptional and outstanding service to international trade, investment and exporting.

The list, which was delayed this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, also recognises the work and dedication undertaken by those who worked during the pandemic to keep the country safe.

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