University engineer secures record £120,000 investment from dragons

Published: 14 May 2019
Joshua Steel
Joshua Steel pitching to the dragons

A University of Southampton entrepreneur was successfully offered £120,000 of investment in his startup live on stage at 2019’s Future Worlds Dragons’ Den event, the largest investment the event has ever seen.

Postgraduate student Joshua Steer entered the Den looking for funding to support the growth of Radii Devices, a medtech software solution he has created to reduce the amount of time it takes to fit prosthetic limbs for people with lower limb amputations. With the software based on his PhD research and fuelled by a personal passion for patient care, Joshua impressed every one of the four dragons, leaving the Den with a joint investment after the investors collaborated on stage before making Joshua an offer.

The live pitch was held at the University’s Highfield Campus on Saturday 11th May, with Joshua facing gruelling questioning on his product and its business credentials in front of a 250-strong audience before entering protracted negotiations over the stake he was willing to exchange for investment. 

As well as the financial investment, Joshua will also benefit from the advice and guidance of the four expert investors as he aims to grow Radii Devices into a commercial success story and improve health outcomes for thousands of patients.

Joshua commented, “I’m really excited to have secured this investment. The Dragons definitely put me through my paces with their questions, so I was thrilled when they all wanted to invest. Thanks to the investment Radii Devices will be able to grow towards efficiently addressing the problem of poorly-fitting prosthetic sockets and so provide a better experience for millions of patients in the UK and globally.”

Speaking of how his business can make a difference, Joshua added:

“Imagine you’ve bought a new pair of shoes and they don’t fit, this will cause pain when you walk, but you can just try a new pair. The prosthetic socket provides a similar function for a person with an amputation, however the process of fittings and re-fittings can be spread over weeks and months.

“Radii Devices’ software solution enables prosthetists to more quickly optimise these devices towards providing users with the life-changing benefit of a well-fitting prosthetic socket.”

Ben Clark, Future Worlds Director said of Joshua’s success: “I am thrilled that Joshua secured a record-breaking investment from the Dragons. The atmosphere was electrifying as Joshua pitched and negotiated like a seasoned business leader, answering questions on everything from market size to intellectual property. Joshua is the latest example of the exceptionally talented student founders emerging from the University of Southampton who are going on to change the world with their ideas.”

Now in its fifth year, Future Worlds Dragons’ Den gives student entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their business proposition to a panel of potential investors. Previous winners have taken their startups to top technology accelerators in London and Silicon Valley, with Joshua’s win taking the running total of investment offered on stage to £570,000.

The dragon investors, all of whom invested in Joshua’s startup, are:

James Vernon

James is a Southampton alumnus, was co-founding partner and Chief Operating Officer of Brevan Howard, which rapidly grew to become the world’s fourth largest hedge fund, and the largest dedicated macro fund. Along with his wife, Mindy, James has also generously supported Southampton’s Centre for Cancer Immunology.

Sonja Lami

Sonja is a Fund Manager at Insight Investment in London and will be appearing at Future Worlds Dragons’ Den in a personal capacity as an experienced angel investor for the second year running. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries and prior to Insight she worked in derivatives of global finance firm JP Morgan.

Chris Broad

Chris is a long-standing Future Worlds mentor and former Director of Sales Contracting, EMEIA, at Apple. A seasoned investor and Southampton alumnus, he has featured in the 2016, 2017 & 2018 editions of Future Worlds Dragons’ Den, drawing upon expertise gained at the prestigious INSEAD graduate business school.

Andrew Doe

Andrew is a serial digital entrepreneur, and founder of British internet success He has spent much of his career in e-commerce, helping brands like Thomas Cook and The Carphone Warehouse build their digital channels. He has mentored several University startups and appeared at Future Worlds Dragons’ Den in 2017 & 2018.

Joshua Steel 2
After tough negotiations Joshua accepts the dragons' offer
Joshua Steel 3
Joshua Steel with his Dragon Investors