Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney invests in Sheffield health gadget

Richard Mills (left) and Mark Sanderson, are pictured at the University of Sheffield, with one of Mark's Swellaway devices.
Richard Mills (left) and Mark Sanderson, are pictured at the University of Sheffield, with one of Mark's Swellaway devices.
0
Have your say

If Richard Mills ever had doubts about his brilliant invention they were blown away by Wayne Rooney’s response to his email.

Richard asked the Manchester United captain if he would be interested in investing in his revolutionary Swellaway device - and was invited over to Manchester to demonstrate. Several hundred thousand pounds of investment followed.

City Region Business Awards Start-Up winner Richard Mills, with Clare Frisby of BBC Look North and Nick Hewer, star of The Apprentice

City Region Business Awards Start-Up winner Richard Mills, with Clare Frisby of BBC Look North and Nick Hewer, star of The Apprentice

The Swellaway uses electronics in a neoprene sleeve to precisely cool and compress an injury - without a bag of frozen peas in sight.

Today, after £150,000 spent on worldwide patents, a seven-figure funding deal in the pipeline and product launches from February next year, Richard, aged 40, is managing to play it cool himself - most of the time.

He said: “It’s a dream come true to have that vehicle to announce Swellaway. The Wayne Rooney brand is bigger than any organisation I have dealt with before.

“He is a really switched-on guy, he got the product straight away, the technology and what it could do for him, his business and his professional sporting life.

Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney, in action

Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney, in action

“I have got to understand it’s like lighting the touch paper. The Sun newspaper picked up on his involvement and after an article went on page three it went global on social media within minutes.

“I take every day as it comes. I don’t expect anything with this product. It could be global or it could be average, who knows?”

So what’s got Wayne Rooney so excited?

As one of the world’s top footballers, avoiding injury is all-important. But on a different level, one in four people suffer a sprain or strain each year in the UK and 1m visit A&E for treatment.

Richard Mills

Richard Mills

Globally, 245m people play football and of course millions more play sports.

But it doesn’t stop with humans, Richard’s research showed 99 per cent of race horse yards would use a Swellaway to ease stiff post race legs in place of the traditional method, a running hose.

So the potential is huge.

Richard had an inkling he was on to something big after being approached by a potential investor before Wayne Rooney’s involvement.

“I had an offer from a multi-millionnaire who wanted 50 per cent of the business. It’s a significant stake and I said ‘no’.

“It’s about having a true partnership on all levels. It’s taken two years to develop the right relationship and its five years since I started. It’s been quite a journey.”