Open Bionics pitching in US to win £500k at Intel Make it Wearable competition

Issue date: 31 October 2014


On Saturday 1 November Open Bionics founder Joel Gibbard will pitch his 3D printed prosthetic hand to a panel of judges in San Francisco, in a bid to win the coveted Intel Make it wearable prize. The judging panel will include Venus Williams and the chairs of Nike, Best Buy, and Louis Vuitton, in a bid to win $500,000.

Earlier this year Open Bionics, a business based in the Bristol Robotics Lab, won a place in a global wearable tech competition put on by Intel. The company was shortlisted from 400 start-ups in and is now in the final top ten. The winners will be announced on Monday 3 November.

Founder Joel Gibbard wants to win the funding so he can develop affordable bionic hands and bring them to market. Joel particularly wants the money to begin developing creative children's hands for young amputees.

He hopes the judges will see how investing in this technology could make a real difference to thousands of amputees.

Joel, and his teammate Sammy Payne, are currently in California learning from UC Berkeley and Intel business mentors.

The competition, called 'Make It Wearable', is run by Intel and supported by UC Berkeley and Vice.

Last week Joel Gibbard achieved a world first when he tested out the first ever 3D scanned and 3D printed custom prosthetic socket and robotic hand on Daniel Melville, 23, who was born without a right hand. Read more about this on Open Bionics blog here

Although 3D scanning and 3D printing a prosthetic socket has been done before, it was the first time anyone has used the technique to custom fit a 3D printed robotic hand. The socket, which fit the first time it was printed, took 40 hours to print, and it was the first time Joel had used the 3D scanning software. This is a dramatic reduction in time and cost for the prosthetics industry and Joel hopes to have an affordable robotic prosthetic on the market next year.

Open Bionics is based in the BRL Technology Business Incubator (TBI), a visionary pilot program to stimulate and support technology start-ups. Working with undergraduate, graduate, post-graduates, staff and partner spinout businesses the TBI ensures an up-to-date and detailed understanding of technology start-up needs and enhances the BRL's creative and entrepreneurial culture. It provides valuable input to courses, research and research exploitation.

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