Funding from Worcestershire County Council's Proof of Concept programme has helped an innovative entrepreneur create a simple new bowl that keeps pet food fresh and sealed when not in use.
Called Pedaldish, the product launched this week, and will initially be on sale for six months exclusively at Pets at Home - both online and in selected stores across the UK.
Pedaldish keeps pet food in a sealed container with a flap lid. A cat or small dog can open the lid by stepping onto the ramp. Inside is a shallow bowl for a single portion of meat and a deeper bowl for larger meals. Biscuits stay crunchy, meat stays moist and the sealed dish also contains the smell of food.
"Unlike other pet bowls with lid, Pedaldish doesn't use motors, electrics or sensors. Best of all there's no batteries to replace," said inventor Peter Hill.
Flies can't reach the food inside and floating airborne microbes are kept away, reducing the risk of infections such as campylobacter.
In hot weather, you can keep meat cool by adding ice to the deep bowl. The product has been designed to help raise pet food off the floor so a cat or dog doesn't have to crouch to eat, aiding digestion.
Peter designed the original prototype of Pedaldish using parts from a pedal bin in his garage in Redditch, Worcestershire.
"I would come home to find my cats' pet food untouched and covered in fly eggs and I knew something had to change. I modified a pedal bin, fitted it with a ramp and taught my cats to step onto it when they wanted to eat. From that day I never lost pet food to flies ever again," said Peter.
"Visitors saw my cats using the homemade feeder and it became the source of many discussions. When I started getting requests to make them, I knew it was something that could help other pet owners," he said.
Peter spent two years developing Pedaldish, experimenting to find the ideal size and shape for the ramp and bowl.
Once he had created a prototype, Peter worked with Blue Orchid, a Worcester-based business growth consultancy and Worcestershire Proof of Concept (POC) grant-funding programme - which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund 2014-2020. POC is one of a suite of business support programmes at Worcestershire County Council and aims to support smaller businesses to explore, develop and protect early stage innovative business ideas, through a partnership with the Central Technology Belt (CTB).
"It was a very straightforward process. I applied for funding to subsidise the first 3,000 products and help purchase the tools I needed to mass-produce the product," explained Peter.
"If you're a small or medium business in the Worcestershire area and you're looking for help to launch or develop an innovative product or service, the Proof of Concept programme should be top of your list as a point of contact."
Manufactured in the UK, Pedaldish has been designed and built to be used every day, and to last for many years. Click on the image above to see the product in action.
Pedaldish is the first product in Peter Hill's Petvictus range of pet products. It currently comes in an attractive charcoal grey colour, but a range of finishes will shortly be available, including bespoke artwork by local artists.
The best way for independent retailers to find out how to stock Pedaldish is to go on to the Petvictus Facebook page, or to www.petvictus.com. It will be available via wholesale suppliers and they can approach their wholesaler asking them to contact Petvictus directly.