Among this year’s 11 winners of the Ontario Brain Institute’s (OBI) Ontario Neurotech program (ONtrepreneurs) is engineer Manmeet Maggu, who is developing a robotic exoskeleton suit for children with cerebral palsy (CP). Maggu said his nephew’s cerebral palsy diagnosis inspired a search for ways to help children with disabilities to walk.
The ONtrepreneurs program supports early-stage innovators to develop and market brain-related technologies by providing a source of funding and other resources to launch neurotechnology ventures. Each of the 11 winners of the 2017 award will be given $50,000 for start-up expenses. Winners also receive mentorship, training, and opportunities to access OBI’s research and industry partners.
Maggu’s start-up, Tréxō Robotics, is building a robotic exoskeleton suit for children under 13 with CP that provides repetitive motion therapy and mobility through robotic gait.
Tréxō attaches onto any major existing walker or gait-trainer so that patients can convert a passive walker into a fully powered exoskeleton device. The battery-powered device, with a charge that lasts a full day, can be used at home or outdoors.
Tréxō also is designed for children with traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, spina bifida, neuromuscular disease, muscle weakness, and degenerative lower extremity joint disease, among other conditions.
“My nephew was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and I found out that he might never be able to walk. With OBI’s funding and support, we are enabling walking, not just for my nephew but the millions of other children with disabilities,” Maggu, Tréxō Robotics’ CEO, said in a press release.
The ONtrepreneurs program has supported 34 brain technology entrepreneurs since its launch in 2012. A recent addition to this year’s awards is collaboration with IBM Canada, which gave winners the opportunity to access entrepreneurial services through the IBM Global Entrepreneur Program. This program provides access to the IBM Cloud platform, including over 150 services in cognitive intelligence, the Internet of Things, and security, among other tools.
This year’s winners will also have the opportunity to attend IBM’s Design Workshops to advance their proof-of-concept.