Bristol robotics entrepreneurs selected for Disney Accelerator programme

Issue date: 16 July 2015

Open Bionics

Open Bionics, a start-up based at Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) that 3D prints bionic hands for amputees, has been selected to join the 2015 Disney Accelerator programme powered by Techstars, considered to be one of the best start-up accelerators in the world.

This is the second start-up from the Technology Business Incubator at BRL to win prestigious accelerator support. Earlier this year Silas Adekunle and the team at Reach Robotics joined the Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator in San Diego, US.

Open Bionics, led by Joel Gibbard and Sammy Payne, will receive support and mentoring through the programme worth up to $120,000 (£77,000). The team will relocate to LA while on the three-month programme.

Open Bionics is an award-winning robotics company that was founded in April 2014 and seeks to create affordable 3D printed robotic hands for amputees. The start-up has won multiple awards for innovation including 'Prosthetic Innovation of the Year' and was named in the international RBR50 list, as one of the most noteworthy companies in the global robotics industry for 2015.

Sammy Payne said, "We are thrilled to have been chosen to participate in the Disney Accelerator program. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to get support and mentorship.

“We look forward to cultivating relationships with the various mentors, which will include top Disney executives and leaders from Pixar, Marvel, Lucas film, ABC, ESPN and Walt Disney Imagineering. We're really looking forward to learning from the creative and imaginative minds at The Walt Disney Company."

Joel Gibbard said, "We feel very lucky to have been selected for the Disney Accelerator which is powered by Techstars. It is considered one of the best start-up accelerators in the world with fewer than 1% of the companies applying to Techstars being accepted. We can't wait to see where this creative relationship leads."

Participants receive up to $120,000 in investment capital to develop their ideas, along with mentor support from top Disney executives, including Chairman and CEO Robert A. Iger, and leaders from Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, ESPN and Walt Disney Imagineering, among others. Mentors will also include other entertainment industry leaders, venture capitalists, and Techstars' extensive network of entrepreneurs, investors and executives.

Open Bionics, is a startup based at the Technology Business Incubator a visionary pilot program to stimulate and support technology start-ups. Working with undergraduate, graduate, post-graduates, staff and partner spinout businesses the incubator provides the BRL with 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.

Bristol Robotics Laboratory is the most comprehensive academic centre for multi-disciplinary robotics research in the UK. It is a collaborative partnership between the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) and the University of Bristol, and home to a vibrant community of over 150 academics, researchers and industry practitioners.

For all the latest information from Open Bionics, visit - or follow them on Twitter @openbionics.

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