Plan for ‘smart’ knee brace wins UMass Lowell entrepreneurship contest

LOWELL — UMass Lowell students building a “smart” brace that can track a patient’s recovery time from a knee injuries have won the university’s once-a-year engineering pitch contest for budding business owners.

The idea for the brace, known as ConnectKnee, topped a subject of 17 entries in UMass Lowell’s seventh annual Francis College of Engineering Prototyping Competitiveness. The contest asks scholar teams to pitch an revolutionary product or service or assistance prior to qualified judges and awards seed cash to assistance make the profitable thoughts a truth.

The competitors is element of UMass Lowell’s yearlong DifferenceMaker program, which teaches college students in all majors capabilities they can use to start their possess ventures to deal with troubles in business enterprise and the local community.

ConnectKnee is a brace fitted with biosensors that keep track of the patient’s muscle mass exercise and observe the knee’s vary of motion. Information and facts gathered by the unit back links to a smartphone that enables the individual and attending medical professional or bodily therapist to assess the wearer’s restoration time, in accordance to biomedical engineering important Alyssa Mulry of Rutland. She came up with the principle for the merchandise soon after her cousin was laid up for a prolonged time after dislocating a knee cap for the duration of a lacrosse recreation.

“I noticed firsthand how limited and discouraging restoration from a knee personal injury was,” Mulry claimed. “The idea really just took off right after that.”

Fellow UMass Lowell students working with Mulry to produce the brace include things like mechanical engineering major Jackson Kelley of Walpole and biomedical engineering significant Tiffany Miller of Hooksett, N.H.

“We are shocked and exceptionally grateful to have won,” Mulry claimed right after the event, held remotely in December by using Zoom. “There were being so lots of incredible teams presenting. The level of competition was extremely sturdy.”

The students’ pitch right before the judges contributed to the team’s achievement, in accordance to Kelley.

“We labored on the product’s enterprise plan a ton and I assume it paid off,” he mentioned.

With the gain, the ConnectKnee crew gained $2,500 to establish the brace and landed an automated berth in the DifferenceMaker $50,000 Idea Obstacle, the program’s greatest pitch opposition to be held in the spring. The learners are veterans of the challenge, obtaining gained the Contribution to a Healthier Way of life prize of $4,000 in that party very last calendar year, also for ConnectKnee.

The workforce is chaotic coming up with a prototype for the brace, according to Mulry and Kelley.

“We can’t wait to commence acquiring people today check out it out so we can acquire comments. We also hope to keep on to operate with the DifferenceMaker software and other mentors to see the place the potential of ConnectKnee can go,” Mulry claimed.

Judges in the prototyping competition involved UMass Lowell alumni Chad LaFrance of Texas Devices Mark Saab, founding trustee of the Saab Family Basis Ram Sudireddy, co-founder of Bento and Manijeh Goldberg, CEO and founder of Privo Technologies along with Jack Wilson, president emeritus of the UMass procedure. Wilson launched the Jack M. Wilson Center for Entrepreneurship at UMass Lowell, where by he is a distinguished professor of increased instruction, rising technologies and innovation.

Considering that the DifferenceMaker method commenced in 2012, individuals have raised $5 million in exterior funding, released 38 businesses and filed for or gained 10 patents. Those ventures incorporate Nonspec, a enterprise based mostly in Lowell that manufactures low-charge, adaptable prosthetics.

Submitted by UMass Lowell