Global success story slips through Dragons' grasp

A Scottish entrepreneur who entered the Dragons' Den (Sunday, Sept 4th) has joined the ranks of success stories that got away.

Alison Grieve, from Edinburgh, is a multi award-winning inventor on a mission to change the way the world holds things. On Sunday night she presented the Dragons with her most recent product, the G-Hold: an ergonomic holder that attaches to tablets and other devices, enabling users to comfortably and securely hold their mobile technology.

The Dragons declared themselves 'out', but Alison has watched the sales flood in, bringing in revenue of £150,000 since filming took place, double the amount she had looked to raise in the Den. Her company has scaled up rapidly, moving to larger premises in August and increasing its assembly team, based in Scotland, to produce the 10,000 G-Holds required monthly to meet demand. The growth stems partly from the product's success on the Home Shopping Network (HSN) in the US, but also from large tablet rollouts in education, healthcare and corporate sectors.

"I am very grateful to have experienced the Den and would do it all again," Alison said. "Of course, it's much easier to say that from the context of our recent successes but having been on this journey for seven years, I knew I would take positives away from meeting the Dragons regardless of what happened next."

Alison first started developing patented 'handholding' technology in 2010 for the foodservice industry, launching a range of non-toppling trays, branded Safetray. A former waitress, Alison came up with her first invention after witnessing a spectacular accident involving a tray of champagne glasses toppling over at an important function.

"Our mission has always been to broaden the use of our handholding technology across multiple industries and applications. Once we had proven our concept, we saw a massive opportunity to develop new technology for mobile devices. And with almost a billion tablets having shipped since the launch of the first iPad, we are now reaping the rewards of that decision."

The ergonomic benefits of the G-Hold have been validated by various muscular skeletal experts:

"The last few years have seen a significant rise in the number of kids with neck and back pain, which clinicians increasingly put down to the use of hand-held devices," explains Gavin Routledge, Vice Patron of the British School of Osteopathy. "The G-Hold design ensures that it massively reduces the strain on neck, shoulder, arm and hand; making for pain-free use of tablets."

The G-Hold is already being used across 100 schools in Aberdeenshire, Apple Distinguished Programme CalStateTEACH and most recently tech solution company XMA, feeding into the Scottish Government National Framework for Tablet Devices in Education. The company anticipates G-Holds fast becoming a standard part of the tablet tool kits provided across Scottish schools and further afield.

Aside from its health benefits, the brand has also been growing in 'cool factor' with celebrity users including former Gadget Show presenter Suzi Perry, Grammy award winning Gregory Porter, Scotland’s rugby team coaches and physios and sports presenter Lee McKenzie.

Alison is currently in Berlin at the IFA consumer electronics trade fair and intends to capitalise on the rise of augmented reality (AR), with games such as Pokémon Go and 360 degree videos creating greater need for handholding technology.

"My prediction is that AR will soon be a part of everyday tablet usage, particularly in education where traditional text books can come alive, engaging children in learning like never before. The G-Hold supports that experience physically, comfortably placing the whole world in your hand."

The G-Hold is available for sale online and in various retail outlets in the UK, Europe and the US. More information about Alison and the product can be found at

Issued by Pagoda Porter Novelli on behalf of G-Hold. Media Contact: Barbara Fraser on 0131 556 0770,

Posted on September 4, 2016 and filed under Press, Television.

Greg Shultz writes about Safetray's journey

Greg Shultz wrote an article for TechRepublic about our sister product, the G-Hold, but he also talked about Safetray's journey. You can read the full article here.

"The origin

The story behind the genesis of the G-Hold is just too good to leave out, as it truly exemplifies the notion of the entrepreneurial spirit at work. A person seeing a problem, developing an innovative solution, turning it into a budding business, and then later successfully applying the core of that invention to solving a problem in a completely different industry altogether.

After witnessing a waitress spill the contents of her serving tray, Grieve came up with an idea for a new serving tray with a built-in clip on the bottom of the tray (Figure A). The clip fits snugly between your fingers and provides you with a solid hold on the tray, thus making the act of balancing a tray full of drinks that much easier. She called her new product the Safetray."

Posted on November 10, 2015 .

Safetray's Alison Grieve on why local manufacturing is the best option for us

Alison Grieve with G-Hold in the Daily Record

Alison Grieve wrote a comment piece for the Daily Record on we decided to make our new product, the G-Hold, locally.

"But perhaps more than anything it is the strong relationships that you form when working so closely with a manufacturer. I have laughed, pondered, learned, invented, almost cried and drunk numerous cups of tea with McLaren Plastics.

Walking into the factory and breathing in the scent of hot steel and molten plastic feels like you’re connecting with the very soul of a product.

The establishment of Safetray production took us around 18 months. With the G-Hold, units started shipping just five months after the first bit of aluminium tooling was cut."

Read the full article here.


Posted on February 6, 2015 .

Safetray Products has the Edge

We are thrilled to announce that last night, after the final round of an intensive selection process, Safetray Products won a ScotEdge award, including funding of £31,000 for our new product, the G-Hold. Safetray was one of 16 winning companies, chosen from over 190 applicants. Yesterday 21 companies pitched in front of a distinguished panel of judges, chaired by Sir Tom Hunter, with our CEO and inventor Alison Grieve following host Carol Smillie to kick off proceedings first thing in the morning. After some tough questions from the panel, it was a nervous wait until the evening ceremony to find out that we had won.

Thankfully we were able to spend the day watching the brilliant pitches by all the other companies, and being inspired by the drive, talent and innovation on display. It was an incredibly strong group, and we didn't envy the judges when it came to decision time. We've never been more excited to be a part of the Scottish business community, and to take advantage of the mentoring and support on offer to us as winners.

Visit for more details of the competition and the latest news.

Posted on December 11, 2014 .

Safetray's US patent is granted

The US patent office has judged Safetray to be "a new and useful invention", and has granted us a patent for America. Here's a first look at the rather handsome document, below.

Posted on October 7, 2014 .

Money talks for Safetray and Young Company Finance

Young Company Finance profiles Safetray Products Ltd and its new product, the G-Hold, in the latest issue. Visit their website here to subscribe and see the full article.

Here is a brief extract:

"The company originally developed its globally patented technology for the food service industry. Its non-toppling, stackable Safetray prevents frequently occuring accidents caused by unbalanced trays, using a fold-flat clip that slips between the fingers and against the knuckles of waitstaff. With distribution now established for the product across 17 countries, and a major licensing deal achieved in North America with foodservice giant San Jamar, the company has extended its IP to the mobile technology industry."


Posted on May 21, 2014 .

Safetray finds a new home

Those of you who live in Edinburgh may have noticed a familiar black-and-white logo appearing beside the door of this iconic turret in the churchyard of St Cuthbert's, on the corner of Lothian Road and Princes Street. We have indeed moved, and are loving our unusual new location.

The Watchtower was built in the early 19th century to deter grave robbers such as Burke and Hare, and it seems to have worked as we haven't seen any grave robbers about the place yet. When we saw its devastating curves, we couldn't resist the opportunity to have our office in a building as round as a Safetray.


Our new postal address is as follows:

Safetray Products Ltd

The Watchtower

7A Lothian Road



Posted on April 28, 2014 .

Safetray inventor interviewed by Informed Edinburgh

Spotlight On: Alison Grieve, Safetray Products Inventor and Entrepreneur

We catch up with local inventor and entrepreneur, Alison Grieve. She explains how one simple idea led her to create her revolutionary rage of Safetray Products which are now available all over the world.

How long have you lived in Edinburgh and what brought you here?

I was Glasgow-born, but moved here when I was seven. I lived here until leaving school when I scooted off for the best part of a decade. I returned in 2004 to have my twin boys because there really is no place like home when you become a mama.

Tell me more about your business, Safetray Products
I used to run an events business.  I invented the Safetray after witnessing a spectacular accident at one of our high-end events. A waitress lost control of her tray and dropped dozens of full champagne glasses all over the floor, smashing everywhere and causing embarrassment and expense. I started wondering why we still use the same old, dangerous design for carrying glasses and that’s when the idea for a discreet, retractable clip on the underside of the tray came to me. It slips between the server’s fingers and allows them to use their knuckles to help to control the tray, preventing it from overbalancing.

After patenting the invention and enlisting the help of Glasgow product designers, Fearsomengine, to source the manufacturer, we commenced production initially in China but then moved it to Scotland. The Safetray is now exported to 17 countries worldwide and is used in venues such as the Sofitel in Lyon, the Hyatt Regency in Dubai and Sodexo, USA.

We now have a few more products in development, including a mirror tray which looks as if stemmed glasses are magically floating through the air, and a disco tray with embedded LEDs.


Update: Safetray on Reporting Scotland - latest on patent law

A brief update on the parliamentary debate over where Scottish patent law cases should be heard. CEO and inventor Alison Grieve was interviewed by David Henderson on a previous show, and here you can see lots of footage of the Safetray in action.

Parliament has decided that Scottish patent cases can be heard in Scotland under new EU rules, which was a matter of concern for Scots inventors like Alison, as well as businesses and lawyers. Huge thanks again to Le Monde Edinburgh, who hosted the interview.

Le Monde:

Posted on March 13, 2014 .

Safetray inventor featured in Daily Record article

Safetray is in good company, alongside other Scottish inventions such as TV and penicillin.

Chris Clements, Daily Record, 12th March 2014

"John Logie Baird will be turing in his grave

EU to hike costs for innovators

The nation that gave the world TV, penicillin and telephones could see its inventors of the fututre stymied by new EU laws.

Scottish inventors will be hit with rising costs to protect their creations if a new patent law goes through Parliament. Lawyers have warned that the Intellectual Property Bill - part of a move to mesh with the EU's new Unitary Patent Court - may see Scottish courts stripped of powers to rule on patent cases.

The Court of Session in Edinburgh has jurisdiction over patents for Scottish inventors. But under the law - to be debated in the House of Commons today - inventors may have to travel to England or abroad to leagally protect their designs from copycats.

Alison Grieve, who invented Safetray, used by hospitality firms, said inventors must be able to litigate in Scottish courts. The Edinburgh businesswoman warned that firms will take a financial hit if the Bill is not amended.

She said: "If we have to go down south to litigate, it does put added pressure on finances. I can forsee problems for companies that have gone to great lengths to negotiate and argue that their contracts are under Scots law, only to find that they have to travel to England."

Under the EU's Unitary Patent Court deal, the UK would be allowed up to four courts to decide on intellectual property disputes. But the Law Society of Scotland fear that none of them will be in Scotland.

Scottish lawyers have called for the three jurisdictions in the UK - England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland - to each have a patent court under the new system.

Lawyer Gill Grassie said: "What we're aiming to achieve is to have a guarantee in place that one of the courts would be situated in Scotland, effectively maintaining the status quo."

Read more here

Posted on March 13, 2014 .

5 Curious Ways to Celebrate a Kickstarter Success

In case you missed it, Safetray smashed its Kickstarter goal of £10,000, raising just over £13,000 towards getting the G-Hold into production. Our CEO and inventor, Alison Grieve, came up with five curious ways to celebrate...

#5 Party Like an Animal

#4 Get Down with the Kids

#3 Party with a New Invention

#2 Vintage Swimsuit Streak

#1 Random Acts of Kindness

Which is your favourite? We rather like the vintage swimsuit, ourselves.


Posted on March 11, 2014 .

Safetray featured in The Scotsman


Safetray inventor Alison Grieve was chosen as a case study in the Scotsman newspaper, 10th December 2013, to talk about intellectual property

Firm grasp of patent laws serves Safetray inventor well

One of the best steps which Edinburgh inventor and entrepreneur Alison Grieve took with the development of her Safetray products was to protect her intellectual assets.

She consulted experts in the field and decided to go for a patent for her product, which is a simple but brilliant design that has revolutionised safety for the catering industry - as the name suggests, Safetray makes serving safer.

Grieve would encourage all inventors and developers to get expert help, especially when it comes to overseas markets. She also sounds a warning for those who want to protect their intellectual property via a patent.

"Many innovators make the mistake of opting for the lengthy and highly expensive patenting process without realising the complexities of this system," says Grieve.

"The majority of new product designs, no matter how unique and innovative in form, do not fulfil the patenting requirements set out by the UK Intellectual Property Office. The four criteria an invention needs to meet in order to secure its patent are that it must be novel, involve an inventive step, be capable of industrial application and must not fall within one of the specifically excluded categories - software, for instance, can be patented in the US but not in the UK.

"Several searches through some of the world's most extensive databases of patents assured us that nothing like the Safetray had ever existed. The closest thing to it was a patent from the early 1920s involving a strap nailed to the bottom of a tray.

"It filled me with a sense of both pride and wonder to think that nobody had thought to advance the concept for almost 90 years. I wonder now how many other inventions there might be floating around, as yet undiscovered and unclaimed, awaiting their recipient's flash of inspiration."

Grieve now has patent protection worldwide for the Safetray and is currently launching a new invention, the G-Hold, which is designed to grip tablet computers.

That's more good news to add to a tale of Scottish success.

Posted on December 10, 2013 .

Banzai! It's Safetray's 16" big brother


We like big trays and we cannot lie...

For those of you who like them large, Safetray is now available in 16" as well as the original 14" size. But even though the new tray is bigger, you still get the same security from our retractable clip, which slips between your fingers for discreet and elegant service. Power and grace: Safetrays and sumo wrestlers have a lot in common.


Contact your local Safetray distributor to find out more about our 16" and 14" Safetrays - visit for the full list.

Posted on October 7, 2013 .