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Robot glove for stroke patients receives £435k boost from Innovate UK

An Edinburgh start-up, based out of the National Robotarium, has been awarded £435,000 ($570,000) to accelerate its robotic glove aimed at assisting stroke patients to the market.

Bioliberty received the money from the government agency, Innovate UK, with the funds earmarked to develop machine learning and data collection elements for the glove that is designed to tailor rehabilitation exercises to the user.

The robotic glove was created to assist a post-stroke patient in opening and closing their hands, a form of movement that can be severely impacted by a stroke. Small in-built sensors in the glove allow it to vary the amount of resistance it can supply with machine learning able to use feedback from the user to tailor exercises.

The device comes in response to guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published in October of this year, which calls for patients recovering from a stroke to receive up to three hours of rehabilitation a day.

Now, the company is looking to bring the device closer to market by launching a US-based clinical trial set to start enrollment at the start of 2024.

Conan Bradley, co-founder of Bioliberty, said: “Our upcoming trials for our soft robotic glove are set to ignite the United States, with top rehab clinics eagerly in discussions.

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“With this newfound funding, we’re poised to accelerate trials and expedite our market launch. But we’re not stopping at the U.S.; the UK beckons, with a significant demand for innovative rehabilitation solutions amidst the latest NICE guidelines.

 “Having access to the National Robotarium’s state-of-the-art office and lab facilities, including its ecosystem of collaborators, industry experts and academic teams, has been vital in helping us to develop our product.”

The device joins a number of other market-bound products born from out of Scotland’s National Robotarium, including a device designed to use artificial intelligence (AI) to train surgeons to perform keyhole surgery, as well as a telerobot with artificial skin designed to help assist nursing staff with their duties.

Previously, Hospital Management sat down with Lisa Farrell, business development manager at the National Robotarium, to discuss the future of the organisation as it celebrates its first year in business and some of the projects in its pipelines as it works to incubate several medical technology firms.

Farrell said: “With an ageing population, demand for robotic solutions to assist in the rehabilitation of those who’ve experienced a stroke will be in great demand. Stroke is the leading cause of disability worldwide, so Bioliberty’s product is addressing a global need, which is one of the core missions of the National Robotarium.

“The National Robotarium’s mission is to develop robotic and AI solutions which make people safer, healthier and more productive and working with tenant companies, we want to provide a catalyst for entrepreneurship, and deliver economic and societal benefits.”

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