Co Antrim firm behind device that helps disabled children walk to create 50 jobs
A Co Antrim company behind a breakthrough product which helps disabled children walk is creating 50 new jobs as part of a £3.2m expansion.
Lisburn-based Leckey is the firm behind the Firefly Upsee, which caused a stir across the globe when it hit the headlines in 2014.
The Firefly began as one woman's idea to help her child, who has cerebral palsy, feel the sensation of walking.
The device has helped children around the world, including in the UK, Germany and the US, take their first steps.
Now, Leckey is expanding and growing its product line, and is adding new jobs to meet increased demand.
The company's founder and chief executive, James Leckey, said the investment was an "exciting milestone in the strategic growth of our business which will focus on building our core sales and introducing a new range of products".
"Innovation has been central to our success to date and working with Invest NI we are positioning ourselves to move with key trends and developments driving growth in our target markets," he added.
Heart-warming images of children walking using the device impressed the families of many children with special needs.
Helping launch the new job announcement at Leckey's Lisburn base, DUP First Minister Arlene Foster said the £3.2m investment was a "significant commitment by Leckey which makes a valuable contribution to Northern Ireland's vibrant life sciences sector".
"This export-focused development will help the company respond to the demands of customers as well as help shape the future technology available in the mobility market," she added.
Invest NI has offered the company more than £700,000 towards its growth plans, which involve research and development and to design and develop prototypes of new products and expand its exports.
Around 18 of the new jobs are now in place, and the company has begun recruiting to fill the remaining posts.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said the investment by Leckey "will generate over £1m annually in additional salaries and offer valuable employment opportunities".
"Support for this expansion demonstrates the Executive's commitment to help indigenous manufacturers strengthen their competitive position in export markets," he added.
"Leckey products are life-enhancing and improving, and will assist many people and families to live their daily lives in a way which prior to having access to Leckey products simply wouldn't have been possible."