Dragons’ Den bagpipe star eyes overseas sales

STARRING in BBC One’s Dragons’ Den last week looks likely to help bagpipe technology inventor Robbie MacIsaac to crack international markets.

The blowpipe invented by the 22-year-old University of Strathclyde student lengthens the life of the bagpipes by preventing the build-up of moisture from damaging them.

The device could also help to reduce the risk of “piper’s lung disease”, also known as “hypersensitivity pneumonitis”, which is caused when the lungs are exposed to moisture and fungi living in the instrument, which in rare but recorded cases can lead to death.

“I first started playing the bagpipes when I was nine years old and learned through school,” explained MacIsaac.

“I ended up playing competitively and was honoured to be chosen to close out the main stage after the Red Hot Chilli Peppers at T in the Park in 2016, which turned out to be the last ever festival.

“We have sold [more than] 500 Flux Blowpipes and had enquiries coming in from across the world.

“Although now our biggest market is in Scotland and the UK, the business we’ve received from abroad is a reminder that throughout their long history, bagpipes have travelled to every corner of the globe.

“There are [more than] 140,000 competitive bagpipers worldwide, with research suggesting the greatest portion is in North America alone.”

He added: “To give another example of their global appeal, there were 146 bands taking part at last year’s World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow, coming from the likes of Argentina, Austria, Australia, and Israel to compete.

“When you also take into consideration the number of people who play the pipes on a non-competitive basis – at weddings or parades in particular – the opportunity for the Scottish bagpipe sector to succeed overseas is huge, and an opportunity I think is still largely untapped.”

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Plus, don’t miss musician Phil Cunningham’s credo in the February issue of Scottish Field magazine.