Experience, IoT, Speaking

Closing the Loops on Rehabilitative Devices, or that time I Spoke at the NIH…

November 5, 2017

In late 2016 I had the honor of attending a Fashion Show at the White House for Rehabilitative and Assistive devices to showcase a collaboration between @UNYQ and Intel.  The creators of the show had a singular mission: to change the conversation from stigma to style. To do this, they assembled products for people with disabilities made to bring a feeling of normalcy to their lives. We showcased a stylish scoliosis brace that I’ve written about. Others brought age-appropriate wear for little people. Still others brought stylish suits for people with limited motor control. It was an incredibly inspiring experience.

I happened to meet Dr. Alison Cernich, Director of the National Center of Medical Rehabilitation Research (part of the National Institute of Health). She is chartered with, among other things, helping industry find ways to create assistive technologies. When she invited me to share my experiences with assistive devices and innovation systems, I jumped at the chance.  The seminar, modestly called “Optimizing the Investment in Medical Devices for Rehabilitation,” convened multiple government agencies chartered with regulation, research, and funding new devices as well as representatives from venture capital and high tech.  The discussions were frank and eye-opening and I came away feeling that there were just a few key disconnects preventing government efforts from magnifying industry efforts and vice versa. I was thoroughly surprised by the depth and quality of the funding sources available to applied researchers via the SBIR and STTR programs and the scope of projects funded. I highly encourage checking out the full program here.

My presentation brought a big company point of view to the discussion- the only one.  Check out the video for the full talk, but the key points are here:

  1. Intel funds exploratory joint projects that test use cases or solve business problems in a few key areas of interest.  I outlined a process I call the Startup Ladder to help quickly advance joint projects, while minimizing risk.
  2. I spoke about the parameters by which we could apply this process to joint projects with applied research teams or startups that have received Phase 2 SBIR/STTR funding to bring a rehabilitative device to market. See the NIH Reporter tool to find these partners.
  3. I offered our work with @UNYQ as an example of how this kind of partnership can work to forward our mutual interests in a few key areas of interest in prosthetics, orthotics, stroke recovery, and exoskeletal augmentation.

This was an incredible opportunity to present my work and learn from others passionately focused on changing the conversation for underserved people. As always, feedback is welcome.

National Center for Medical Rehabilitative Research (NCMRR)
NIH Plan on Rehabilitation 2016
NIH Small Business Innovation Research program
NIH Reporter Tool – locate projects, grants, and grantees

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