Wind-up radio company Freeplay Energy seeks AIM share listing

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The Independent Online

The company behind the inventor Trevor Baylis's wind-up radios is to float on AIM.

The company behind the inventor Trevor Baylis's wind-up radios is to float on AIM.

Freeplay Energy received funding from the Government, The Body Shop's founders, Anita and Gordon Roddick, and other investors to pioneer Mr Baylis's breakthrough technology in 1994. After nine years of developing a product range that now spans torches and mobile-phone chargers, it will list next month. It plans to raise £3.5m through a share placing to fund research and development of its wind-up electronic technology.

Rory Stear, the chairman and chief executive, spotted the potential of Mr Baylis's idea of capturing energy made by human exertion - through a winding device - to power radios, when the inventor appeared on television. Mr Stear said: "It was April 1994 and my business partner was watching the BBC's Tomorrow's World. Trevor Baylis came on with his wind-up radio and we thought it sounded like a good concept. We immediately got together with Trevor and bought the intellectual rights to his idea."

Since then, more than 3.5 million wind-up devices have been sold. It is about to launch an electricity generator powered by a foot pedal. "Our products are needed in places where electricity and power are sparse, or in emergency situations when power is not available. They are also popular with people who enjoy outdoor pursuits," Mr Stear said.

About 70 per cent of its sales are aimed at the developed world, but Freeplay also supplies the United Nations and the Red Cross with wind-up electronic devices for use in the developing world. Further development of products for water filtration and other medical devices is planned.

The shareholding of the Roddicks, who own about 15 per cent of Freeplay, will dilute to between 8 and 10 per cent. Freeplay is expected to be worth £11m on flotation.

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