By Daniel Hunter

A Preston-based group of BAE Systems apprentices has been declared the winner of the Make it in Great Britain Challenge — a competition launched earlier this year to find the most innovative pre-market products, processes and concepts in the UK.

BedFleX stormed to victory in the final leg of the Challenge after being on display for the final week of the Make it in Great Britain exhibition at the Science Museum, where members of the public were invited to vote on their favourite of five finalists, all of whom had previously been recognised as best in their category.

BAE Systems won the public vote for its BedFleX, which is an elastic attachment for use by recovering amputees and critical care patients which allows them to take part in bed-based exercise to aid rehabilitation. As winner of the Make it in Great Britain Challenge, BedFleX provides a great example of pioneering and cutting-edge innovation, and of British manufacturing creativity at its very best.

“I’d like to congratulate the BedFleX team for their success at winning the Make it in Great Britain Challenge," Business Minister Michael Fallon said.

"They have put the skills they gained from their apprenticeships into creating this winning piece of technology. The Challenge was launched to seek out some of the most innovative pre-market designs and concepts in modern British manufacturing, of which BedfleX’s unique idea is a great example.

“All of the finalists should be proud of their success at making it to the Make it in Great Britain Exhibition. Over 40,000 people came to see their creations alongside those of some of Britain’s leading manufacturers, which demonstrated that the UK is still a leading manufacturing nation and a hub of creativity.”

Using an innovative attachment, BedFleX enables patients to secure resistance tubing to a stable object (such as the bed) without the risk of the elastic slipping or coming undone — a common problem with existing physiotherapy tools which use resistance tubing.

Alongside BedFleX, other finalists of the competition included a new technology which could offer relief to tinnitus sufferers, an eco-friendly alternative to everyday cement that could reduce CO2 emissions by up to 90 per cent and a pushchair that can be folded down to a 32 litre-size rucksack.

“We are extremely proud and honoured to be announced as the winner of the Make it in Great Britain Challenge, and hope our achievement will help to tackle outdated perceptions of the manufacturing sector by highlighting the innovation taking place in Britain today," Sean Gallagher, part of the winning BAE Systems apprentice team, said.

“To see our invention on display at the world-famous Science Museum was a very rewarding experience, and we are delighted to be crowned the overall winner of this national competition — it’s an incredible feeling.”

The BAE Systems apprentices will receive an award for their success at the Best Factory Awards 2012, taking place later this month.

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