Connells Point-based business wins another export award for innovative boat safety device

Jenny Aiken and Scott Smiles at Connells Point with their award and his invention  Picture: John Veage
Jenny Aiken and Scott Smiles at Connells Point with their award and his invention Picture: John Veage

A start-up business run from a Connells Point home has won a second major export award for an innovative boating safety product it developed.

Life Cell Marine Safety was founded by Scott Smiles and his sister Jenny Aiken, who grew up in the waterside suburb.

Mr Smiles moved to the NSW north coast, but Ms Aiken still lives in Connells Point and manages the business from home.

Mr Smiles invented a device, named Life Cell, after an ordeal in 2011 in which he and a mate and their young sons clung to an Esky while waiting to be rescued after their boat sank 10 kilometres off the Sydney coast.

His invention is both a lightweight floatation device and secure container for storing safety equipment such as flares, VHF radio, air horn, torch and whistle.

It has handles and lanyards, designed to keep people together in the water.

The product is already being exported to the US, Europe and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Life Cell Marine Safety was named Small Exporter of the Year at the 2017 Australian International Marine Export Awards, held at Sanctuary Cove.

At the same event in 2016, it won the award for the most innovative product or service.

​Ms Aiken is a physiotherapist, who had major practices in St George and Sutherland Shire, before deciding to join her brother in the new venture.

“I came on board to help turn a good idea into a factory business that’s aiming to grow globally quickly,” she said.

“I manage the business side of things and work from home.

”We manufacture in Thailand and export straight from there.

“Our preference would be to manufacture in Australia, but it is not competitive on price.”

Ms Aiken said they had sold 3000 Life Cells in the first two years.

”We started exporting to the US in the second half of last year, so we expect to sell 3000 in the coming financial year, and hopefully keep growing.”

The business has also received the NSW Premiers Export Scholarship Award.


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