By Lubna Hindi-
Four U of L MBA students placed 3rd in the Global Venture Labs Investment Competition while presenting the TheraBracelet, a device that improves hand movement for patients who have had a stroke or experience other nerve disorders by delivering low pressure signals into the patient’s wrist.
Matt Raggard, Nick Phelps, Kacie Neutz first formed TheraBracelet in 2013 through iBridge, a Google database of university research that’s available for license. Two additional years of research have gone into the development of the device in the Hand Rehabilitation Lab at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee where Leah Enders, Chief Scientific Officer, has worked to test over 60 patients across 6 different studies. “TheraBracelet’s foundational intellectual property was developed by Dr. Na Jin Seo and Leah Enders. Our company has an exclusive option to license the technology from UWMRF,” said Kacie Neutz, Chief Operations Officer. “When we found the technology, we contacted UWM-Milwaukee’s Office of Technology Transfer and were able to develop a relationship with them in order to secure the option.”
They have presented TheraBracelet at several different competitions including the Rice Business Plan Competition in Houston where they placed first , the Ivey Business Plan Competition in Ontario placing 2nd, and the Global Venture Labs Investment Competition in Austin where they placed third.
“Winning cash is king and it was difficult to do.” said Nick Phelps, Chief Financial Officer. “We were never the sexiest technology and our science was doubted each time because it is a new concept, although it has held up in our lab tests. All we could do was put our head down and reach the next milestone – which we did.”
They had to compete with teams from all around the world to even make it into the respected competitions where they then competed with 16-40 teams for the grand prize, which typically involved some sum of money. “We could not have gotten where we are without the help of our many advisors, all of which can’t be included in this list: Dr. Van Clouse, the Director of our Entrepreneurship MBA program, Robert Bird of Zynex Medical, Tom Schwatweiser of Bioness, Alex Frommeyer of Beam Technologies, Dr. David McClure of Middleton Reutlinger, Alex Curry our Chief Engineer who also holds equity in the company, and many more helped us move this product forward.” Said Kacie Neutz.
The team plans to use their prize money as funding for the business. Their next step involves more clinical testing at Frazier Rehab here in Louisville and the engineering of the final prototype. The final bracelet will be an all-in-one, battery powered, standalone bracelet intended for all day use and is expected to hit the market in 2016.