EIT Health Bootcamp is an annual LaunchLab created by YES!Delft and EIT Health Partners and is designed to facilitate business-case development. One of the successful startups that came out of EIT Health LaunchLab in 2016 is Xabian.
Ben Hayward and the team at Xabian are committed to making the lives of lower limb amputees as comfortable as possible, and that starts with a perfectly-fitting prosthetic leg. Without question, creating a socket that helps attach a prosthetic to a person’s leg smoothly and seamlessly is no easy task. The team of Xabian, however, have come up with a solution in the shape of a cutting-edge computer formula.
Application deadline for EIT Health Bootcamp LaunchLab 2017 is July 17. For more info click here.
DISCOVERING AN OPPORTUNITY
For the past few years, Ben has been focused on an ambitious goal: leverage technology to help people with disabilities lead a healthy life. As founder of Xabian, he now gets to do this every day.
It all started in mid-2015 when Ben was still studying at Warwick University. One day, as he was waiting for the bus to go home, he saw a blind student trying to get around the campus. “He was struggling quite a lot,” Ben remembers. “It amazed me that we have all this great technology and it doesn’t seem to be used a lot for people with disabilities. I thought surely we could be doing more for blind people than just giving them a white stick.”
Finding a way to use technology for improving the life of people with disabilities became an important drive for Ben. He started brainstorming and soon came to the idea of helping amputees by developing a prosthetic leg. About a year later, he and a team of two fellow colleagues from university already had a first version of the product.
MOVING AWAY FROM THE ORIGINAL IDEA
Yet, they were only scratching the surface. Ben and his team kept working on their concept when they found that a different business case in the same field would be more lucrative.
“We realized that the issue wasn’t so much with the prosthetic legs, it was with attaching those legs to the body. It’s really hard to get that connection point between the skin and the prosthetic. To get that right is often very uncomfortable for the amputee,” Ben explains.
Developing the perfect prosthetic socket is no easy task, which is why the team decided to focus on developing software that could predict how soft and how hard the leg is in different places, thus creating a socket that fits the amputee to the slightest detail. Today, Xabian operates as a cloud-based service that uses generative technology to create the most fitting and comfortable prosthetic socket for every lower limb amputee.
TOWARDS MARKET ENTRY
The change in direction for the startup was largely the result of the market research done during their participation in the EIT Health LaunchLab program in Delft, and the guidance that the team received in that time. “I’m not sure if we would have made it to this point without the LaunchLab,” Ben says. “Because the cohort is so small, you get the attention that you won’t get anywhere else.”
In the short time since the EIT Health LaunchLab, the team of now four have been able to build their software product and patent it. The next step is to start clinical trials with rehabilitation centers in the Netherlands and abroad, and get the necessary certification. “We expect to have the certification towards the end of the year, so we can start our early-access program in December or January,” Ben says.
While they don’t have any signed customers yet, the potential ones are already lining up. “We spoke to close to 30 rehabilitation centers during LaunchLab,” says Ben, which gave them a rather solid feel for their target market.
And they’re not stopping there. The team’s recent admission into YES!Delft’s Incubation Program is about to propel them not only towards that market, but into it, too.
June 2015 – Idea to create prosthetic ankle
March 2016 – First prototype of ankle
April 2016 – Pivot: Automating socket design and manufacturing by analyzing the shape of the residual limb
July 2016 – Beginning of EIT Health LaunchLab
November 2016 – First software prototype
February 2017 – First product tests with amputees
April 2017 – Technology filed as patent
May 2017 – Clinical trials designed
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