RANTOUL — IntelliWheels plans to take space soon in the Rantoul Business Incubator and operate an assembly, testing and storage facility there, company CEO Scott Daigle said.
"We'll also be keeping our main office in EnterpriseWorks," Daigle said, referring to the incubator in the University of Illinois Research Park in Champaign.
In Rantoul, IntelliWheels will occupy an office and use a loading bay area.
"We were looking for a place to assemble and test and put together the final product, and they had space open for a very low cost. It was a deal we couldn't pass up," Daigle said.
The company is planning to launch Easy Push, a set of wheels that will make wheelchairs easier for users to operate.
"At this point, we have a solid prototype, a solid design. We're in the midst of manufacturing the first set of inventory and waiting for that to be completed. When that's done, we'll start assembling, putting them in boxes and they'll be ready to ship out," he said.
The wheels designed for adult wheelchair users are about 24 inches in diameter. The company also plans to have 20-inch and 22-inch wheels for pediatric patients.
Retrofitting wheelchairs is fairly simple, Daigle said.
"It's not very difficult. It takes a wrench and about five minutes of your time. The durable medical equipment supplier is the one who actually mounts these on the wheelchair," he said.
IntelliWheels is using two companies in East Central Illinois — Plastic Designs Inc. in Paxton and Deedrick Machine Inc. in Sadorus — to manufacture components for Easy Push.
IntelliWheels has received more than a half-million dollars in capital. It got venture capital from Champaign-based Serra Ventures, as well as California-based Crestlight Venture Productions.
The company also received investments from some local angel investors, as a result of meeting with the Second Saturday business review group in Champaign.
The venture capital and angel funding will go toward manufacturing and marketing Easy Push.
Separately, IntelliWheels received a $164,567 Small Business Innovation Research grant this year from the National Institutes of Health.
Money from the grant is going toward development of an automatic gear-shifting system for manually propelled wheelchairs.
"It's a higher-tech item," Daigle said. "It's actually what I started developing when we became a company."