Hammer Technologies are proud to have our RatMat featured in this month’s esteemed Pest Magazine. Check out the images below to read the exclusive interview with RatMat inventor and Hammer Tech MD Dr Toby Bateson.
FEATURE; Inventor’s story
Issue 60: December 2018 & January 2019
From medicine to mats...
In mid 2017 (Pest 51: June & July 2017) we reported on how a Cornish doctor with no pest control experience, yet with a flair for inventing things, had developed a system of electrified tiles to prevent rats from attacking his father-in-law's car. Unlike several of the new inventions we have reported on, we are delighted to advise that this product – RatMat – has made it to market. It made its debut outing at PestTech – see page 21
Here, in his own words, practising A&E doctor Toby Bateson describes this 'journey' to commercialisation.
I came up with the concept for RatMat seven years ago when my father-in-law had his vintage sports car damaged by rats. The damage came to £7,500, he wasn't covered by insurance and he was told these attacks were likely to happen again. I have invented several things over the years, including the world's smallest vacuum cleaner for which I have an official world record.
“Toby, I need you to invent something to stop this happening again,” said father-in-law. I immediately realised that if the floor was electrified the rats wouldn't be able to walk across it to the car. I was very excited to find that no-one had done this before and set to work drafting a patent and researching the differ
ent ways it could be accomplished.
Design and funding
I became involved with Dufort Associates, a Wadebridge-based product design and development company, when I was struggling to find a practical solution. I had hit several hurdles which were looking insurmountable if I was to develop a bespoke conductive fabric which could be cut to shape and was flexible. Francis Dufort came to the rescue and persuaded me that a tile option would be more practical and we set to work on a prototype. Dufort have been highly insightful and creative in developing the design of the tile. It wouldn't be what it is without them.
I was overwhelmed by the positivity and interest RatMat received at its launch at PestTech. People were excited about the potential of the RatMat, often suggesting that it could help in other areas where rodents are currently difficult to control.
The real day job
I still work as an emergency doctor in Treliske hospital in Cornwall. This has given me many of the skills I needed in order to develop the RatMat. It has made me problem-orientated and efficient with my time, as well as giving me experience in project-managing a team and thinking ahead to predict and avoid problems before they cause difficulties. You have to truly believe that the solutions exist and that you simply realise them. Thomas Edison said that his inventions were '1% inspiration and 99% perspiration'. I would say that making mine a reality have been 1% inspiration and 99% communication. I couldn't have done it without the team.
For funding and to raise awareness, I launched a campaign on Kickstarter, the world's largest funding platform for creative projects. This wasn't successful as the product is too highly specialised and the website probably wasn't the right audience for it. But it did result in several private investors coming forward who successfully funded the project. The publicity push that went along with it was great for gauging public reaction and learning about the market place.
I'm truly indebted to Pest magazine for the exposure given to the project as it was in your pages that Killgerm spotted us. Without your magazine we wouldn't have made such great progress. Killgerm has also been amazing in taking on the project and helping bring it to market. The UK team has demonstrated it to their international sister companies around the world and all of them are hoping to distribute the RatMat for us.
It has been fascinating coming to the pest control industry through this unusual route. I find the industry very problem-centric and pragmatic and can see that several of its challenges are worsening. I can also see parallels between pest control and the use of antibiotics to treat infection. Both rodents and bacteria are intrinsic, highly integrated and adapted to their environments. Humans have blunt and dwindling tools to fight them.
Antibiotic resistance is increasing and pest controllers are having their hands tied over the use of several mainstays of their arsenal. Now is the time for innovation.