After his young son went blind in one eye, Douglas Anderson set a team at his industrial design firm to work on the Optomap, a scanner that can produce an almost instant image of the retina. The machine eliminates the need for uncomfortable eye drops, significantly reduces examination times, and allows scans to be e-mailed instantly for a specialist to analyse. The Scottish company has received £30m investment from venture capitalists and business angels, including Brian Souter of Stagecoach. Some 90% of the company’s turnover is generated in the United States, and sales have grown 166% a year from £1.3m in 2001 to £8.9m in 2003, when it made a significant loss.
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