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David Gow


1957 -

Inventor of the i-Limb prosthetic hand. Born in Dumfries, Gow was educated at the little school in Breconbeds and at Annan Academy. He read mechanical engineering at the University of Edinburgh, graduating in 1979. He began his career in the defence sector but within two years began research work in prosthetics and joined the National Health Service (NHS) in 1984. He joined the Bioengineering Centre at the Princess Margaret Rose Orthopaedic Hospital and designed a partial prosthetic hand system in 1993, followed by the world's first electrical shoulder five years later. He formed Touch EMAS (now Touch Bionics) in Livingston, an NHS spin-out company, which designed the i-Limb hand system that included a rotatable thumb and articulated fingers, each one individually powered by its own miniature motor and gearbox. This won the MacRobert Award from the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2008. Touch Bionics have improved the lives of more than 5000 people and, in 2015, the bionic hand featured on a set of postage stamps showcasing the eight most important British inventions of the last century.

Gow was awarded a CBE in 2014 and an honorary doctorate by the University of Edinburgh in 2018.


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