After all of the fantastic applications received, we just wanted to provide you with some insight into the winner of this year's Varsity Pitch competition.
The Grand Final in partnership with Tata, whittled over 300 applications down to 7 exceptional entrepreneurs who pitched at Digital Catapult, London in GEW week. The panel consisted of expert judges from Tata, Swiss Re, Ignite and Withpr as well as a diverse audience including Sir Vince Cable, MP who provided wise words in his opening remark, to investors, supporters and established entrepreneurs.
Motus Innovations, category finalist for Digital & Technical sponsored by The Rain Gods, was the indisputable winner. Co founder, Stephanie Hodgson, post graduate from Imperial College London says on winning the £10,000 prize:
“To have our work at Motus Innovations be recognised in such a way is truly humbling. We are excited to bring robotic rehabilitation solutions to stroke survivors and winning the Varsity Pitch Competition will definitely help us on that mission.”
To hear more about Motus Innovations, Stephanie has kindly provided insight into how the company came about and why she and the other founders are so passionate about the advancement of this type of technology:
“As a physiotherapist, working primarily with stroke patients - I have seen the struggle, the disappointment and the achievement that comes with post-stroke rehab. I have been frustrated by restricted time and resources and I have received desperate pleas from patients and loved ones, wanting more. More therapy. More chances to gain the movement that was so abruptly taken away.
In my first week of living in London, I met Paloma Vazquez and Ross Ward, two brilliant medical engineers who were developing solutions to assist recovery after stroke. Ross’s grandma had recently survived a stroke and he had been frustrated by the lack of therapy options for her. This was the catalyst for Motus Innovation’s first product; a simple and lightweight robotic device to assist patients to complete more arm and hand movement repetitions. This was important and life changing work I thought. Why? Well, that all comes back to neuroplasticity.
In stroke recovery, neuroplasticity is the capacity of the brain to rewire or reorganise itself after injury. The most essential factor in harnessing neuroplasticity, is repetition. Movement repetition and task specific practice must be achieved in order to create neuroplastic changes in the brain. For the stroke survivor, that means once a week physiotherapy sessions are not nearly enough to achieve these changes.
Every year in the UK, 150 000 people suffer a stroke. That’s enough people to fill Wembley Stadium almost twice. Unsurprisingly, stroke is the 3rd leading cause of death in the UK, but did you know that stroke is the biggest cause of disability in adults? More than 70% of stroke survivors will have an upper limb disability; this means losing the ability to use their hand, arm, and shoulder.
Paloma, Ross and I have been working together to bring the Motus solutions to the patients who will benefit from them. The Motus robotic device will actively assist patients in regaining essential upper limb functions, by assisting them to complete the repetitive movements that are critical to a successful therapy session. This device will register the user’s ability and adjust settings automatically, adapting to their specific and changing needs as they recover.
Additionally, Motus Innovations is developing a software platform, which can be used alongside the physical device. This platform will provide a ‘gamified’ environment to encourage regular use of the device, as well as tracking patients’ progress. This will greatly enhance the quality of patient recovery in the vital 12 months following stroke by providing patients with an opportunity to take ownership of their rehabilitation.
We have achieved a lot so far – we have built a capable team, a working prototype and partnerships with stroke groups, clinicians and researchers. With continued support and investment, we will continue to strive towards our mission of making rehabilitation accessible and affordable for all.”