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Touch Bionics builds turnover to top £10m

A Scottish firm that makes artificial hands used by wounded soldiers expects to achieve continued growth this year after recording a 17% surge in sales last year.

Livingston-based Touch Bionics grew annual turnover to above £10 million for the first time in the year to December, from £8.6m in the preceding period.

The increase reflected growing demand around the world for a range of products that includes prosthetic hands, fingers and skin.

A spokesman for the company said around 3000 i-limb hands and more than 500 i-limb digits solutions have been fitted to patients worldwide to date. The company's i-limb digits can be produced to replace one or more fingers.

The company recently doubled the size of its livingskin production facilities in New York state in the US in order to cope with demand for the silicon skin the company produces.

This is hand painted to match the skin tone of wearers of prostheses and includes details such as freckles, hairs and tattoos where appropriate.

Chief executive Ian Stevens said the additional space will increase the livingskin production capacity significantly.

He said: "As global demand for our livingskin prostheses has been increasing, we needed to ensure our production capacity is able to scale to meet that demand."

The growth in sales has provided a significant boost to profitability.

A spokesman for the company said based on preliminary figures Touch Bionics appears to have broken even in 2012 before recording charges for interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation for the year.

It expects to achieve a profit at the pre-tax level this year.

Accounts for Touch Bionics' parent company, Touch EMAS, show it made a £1.3m loss before tax and exceptionals in 2011, on sales of £8.6m.

Founded by inventor David Gow, Touch Bionics was spun out of the National Heath Service in Scotland in 2003.

It raised £2.5m expansion funding from the Archangels angel investment network and the Scottish Venture Fund in October 2011. Archangels' chief executive John Waddell said then the company had established itself as a world leader.

The first recipient of an i-limb hand was Donald McKillop, of Kilmarnock, who was fitted with one in 1997, 30 years after losing his right hand as the result of an industrial accident.

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