Business

University spin-out secures funding for robotic grip-assist glove



A Scottish start-up has secured funding for a new robotic glove that could help millions of people recover muscle grip in their hands.

BioLiberty secured support from the Edinburgh Business School’s Incubator (ESB) based at Heriot-Watt University.

The lightweight glove is the first product from the four recent engineering graduates.

Co-founder Ross O’Hanlon, 24, was motivated to start the company when his aunt was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and began to lose movement. He was unable to find support for his aunt and noticed that activities like drinking water became more difficult.

The robotic glove uses artificial intelligence (AI) technology and is aimed at helping people living in the UK suffering from hand weakness due to muscle mass loss with age or a neurological disease.

It uses an electronic diagnostic technique that records and measures the electrical activity in response to a nerve’s stimulation of the muscle.

The glove will then detect a user’s intention to grip and employ an algorithm to convert the intention into force, helping them hold an item at the correct pressure.

O’Hanlon said: “While there are many gadgets on the market that address a specific grip challenge such as tools to help open jars, I wanted an all-encompassing solution to support a range of daily tasks.

“We founded BioLiberty while studying and we’ve already achieved a working prototype but, with a background in engineering, converting a good idea into a successful business can be overwhelming.

He added: “Up to now, we’ve funded the company from business competition awards so being accepted into the Edinburgh Business School Incubator programme is a huge boost – we’re confident that support of this type will help accelerate the glove into homes more quickly.”

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Once companies leave the incubator, the university’s Global Research Innovation and Discovery facility supports next stage business growth through accelerated scale-up and development processes.

Kallum Russell, business incubator manager at the Edinburgh Business School, said: “This month, we’re welcoming seven new companies into the Incubator and, while striving to minimise the impact of lockdown on these fledgling companies, we’ll support their growth using a range of virtual seminars, speaker opportunities, networking events and mentoring services.

“The types of businesses we support are wide ranging with this year’s intake including a mobile app to reduce printing receipts, a circular clean energy solution and an American style brewery – we will be working with them to identify suitable markets, pivoting plans where required to factor in the impact of the pandemic.”



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