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Virgin boss helps launch British life-saving invention on Bondi Beach

Photography by Leo Cinicolo.

At the height of Australia's beach season, graduate entrepreneur Ross Kemp will unveil his one-person motorised life-saving craft to its world-famous lifeguard community, starting at Bondi Beach. His invention, Asap, combines the manoeuvrability of a small paddle board with on-board electric propulsion to help reach casualties faster.

Graduating with a first-class Product Design degree from Loughborough University just over two years ago, Ross is travelling up and down the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast for the next three weeks, to gain lifeguards’ feedback, in time for Asap’s global product launch in Summer 2014. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity came about after Asap caught the attention of Virgin boss Richard Branson, when Ross won investment on the BBC tv show, Be Your Own Boss.

Branson offered to fly Ross to Australia, saying: “I have a deep passion for protecting the ocean but I am also familiar with the dangers it holds. I have had my share of close shaves, and have been rescued from sinking boats and balloons many times, and even had to swim for shore once, clinging to a plank of wood. I think the Asap watercraft is a fantastic invention and will be a wonderful success in Australia. Anything that can help lifeguards reach drowning casualties faster must be a good thing.”

Ross developed his idea whilst lifesaving training at Loughborough and refined Asap in the University’s Graduate Commercialisation Studio, winning a string of national awards including Lloyds TSB Start Up of the Year and a Santander Universities Award. He also attracted interest from the lifeguard industry including the RNLI and Lifesaving South Africa, following the country’s worst ever drowning tragedy in which six rugby players were swept out to sea in Port Elizabeth in March 2012.

Ross said: “It’s taken months of long days, even longer nights and strong coffees – but we’ve designed a fantastic rescue product, which I am certain will help rescuers reach people in the water quicker.  Australia is one of the best places in the world to test our product, with some of the world’s greatest lifeguards.  I can’t wait to get in the Aussie waters!”

Professor Steve Rothberg, Loughborough’s Pro Vice Chancellor of Enterprise, said: “Ross is an outstanding ambassador for graduate enterprise. We’re delighted to have been able to support his business in its early stages through The Studio and he fully deserves the tremendous success that he has achieved. I wish him a very successful trip to Australia.”

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 13/229

High resolution images of Ross and Asap are available at

About Asap water crafts
Asap water crafts is a start up business established in 2013 by Ross Kemp, and is based in Loughborough. Asap is an electric power assisted water craft for beach lifeguards. Earlier this year it won Lloyds TSB Best UK Startup, a Santander University Entrepreneurship Award, a Loughborough University Business Plan Award and a Shell LiveWIRE Big Ideas Award. The design development and prototyping of the craft has been supported by the National Composite Centre in Bristol.
For more information about Asap, please contact Michelle Barnett:

About The Studio
Asap water crafts is part of The Studio, Loughborough University’s commercialisation hub for graduates. Each year up to ten of the University’s most promising graduate ventures are selected for an intensive two-year support programme. The unique combination of access to specialist University facilities, expertise, mentoring, training and professional office space is helping over 25 graduate companies accelerate their businesses in areas as diverse as product design, data visualisation, publishing, furniture, sculpture and creative branding.

About Loughborough University
Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year title in 2008-09 and has been named Sports University of the Year 2013-14 by The Times and Sunday Times. Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and has been voted England's Best Student Experience for six years running in the Times Higher Education league. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.


Anna Leather
Marketing Manager (Enterprise)
Loughborough University
T: 01509 223445

PR team

Telephone: 01509 222224