LOWELL — UMass Lowell college students growing a “sensible” brace that may observe a affected person’s restoration time from a knee harm have gained the college’s annual engineering pitch contest for budding entrepreneurs.
The idea for the brace, referred to as ConnectKnee, topped a area of 17 entries in UMass Lowell’s seventh annual Francis Faculty of Engineering Prototyping Competitors. The competition asks pupil groups to pitch an modern services or products earlier than knowledgeable judges and awards seed cash to assist make the successful concepts a actuality.
The competitors is a part of UMass Lowell’s yearlong DifferenceMaker program, which teaches college students in all majors abilities they will use to launch their very own ventures to handle challenges in enterprise and the group.
ConnectKnee is a brace fitted with biosensors that monitor the affected person’s muscle exercise and observe the knee’s vary of movement. Info gathered by the gadget hyperlinks to a smartphone that enables the affected person and attending physician or bodily therapist to evaluate the wearer’s restoration time, in response to biomedical engineering main Alyssa Mulry of Rutland. She got here up with the idea for the product after her cousin was laid up for a very long time after dislocating a knee cap throughout a lacrosse recreation.
“I noticed firsthand how restricted and discouraging restoration from a knee harm was,” Mulry mentioned. “The thought actually simply took off after that.”
Fellow UMass Lowell college students working with Mulry to develop the brace embody mechanical engineering main Jackson Kelley of Walpole and biomedical engineering main Tiffany Miller of Hooksett, N.H.
“We’re shocked and intensely grateful to have gained,” Mulry mentioned after the occasion, held remotely in December through Zoom. “There have been so many unimaginable groups presenting. The competitors was very robust.”
The scholars’ pitch earlier than the judges contributed to the staff’s success, in response to Kelley.
“We labored on the product’s marketing strategy loads and I believe it paid off,” he mentioned.
With the win, the ConnectKnee staff obtained $2,500 to develop the brace and landed an computerized berth within the DifferenceMaker $50,000 Thought Problem, this system’s largest pitch competitors to be held within the spring. The scholars are veterans of the problem, having gained the Contribution to a More healthy Way of life prize of $4,000 in that occasion final yr, additionally for ConnectKnee.
The staff is busy designing a prototype for the brace, in response to Mulry and Kelley.
“We are able to’t wait to begin having people attempt it out so we are able to obtain suggestions. We additionally hope to proceed to work with the DifferenceMaker program and different mentors to see the place the way forward for ConnectKnee can go,” Mulry mentioned.
Judges within the prototyping competitors included UMass Lowell alumni Chad LaFrance of Texas Devices; Mark Saab, founding trustee of the Saab Household Basis; Ram Sudireddy, co-founder of Bento; and Manijeh Goldberg, CEO and founding father of Privo Applied sciences; together with Jack Wilson, president emeritus of the UMass system. Wilson based the Jack M. Wilson Middle for Entrepreneurship at UMass Lowell, the place he’s a distinguished professor of upper training, rising expertise and innovation.
For the reason that DifferenceMaker program started in 2012, individuals have raised $5 million in exterior funding, launched 38 firms and filed for or obtained 10 patents. These ventures embody Nonspec, an organization primarily based in Lowell that manufactures low-cost, adaptable prosthetics.
Submitted by UMass Lowell