Rehab robot wins 3P innovation competition

3P winner Rowan Smith with IBISWorld founder and director Phil Ruthven

3P winner Rowan Smith with IBISWorld founder and director Phil Ruthven

Every year more than 56,000 Australians suffer a stroke, however as this year’s IBISWorld 3P Innovation Competition winner Rowan Smith discovered when his nan had a stroke, many are not getting the rehabilitation they need to fully recover.

Smith’s winning idea, Tech Gym, uses intelligent robotics to assist stroke patients through their rehabilitation journey. A portable robotic arm analyses a patient’s intention to move and assists them through a series of rehabilitation games and exercises.

“Our device improves how many patients a hospital can serve in a day and automates the reporting process to reduce time spent on paperwork. We include gamification and music therapy to create a fun and immersive environment for patients, which helps their motivation,” Smith says.

Smith is in the final year of a mechanical and mechatronic engineering degree at the University of Technology Sydney, and says he is “ecstatic” to win the $12,000 first prize, which he says will contribute to research and development costs.

“When you win something like this it picks you up and carries you for a long time. Over the last 12 months I have taken part in programs with UTS startups, the CSIRO, and the Actuator – a medical device hardware accelerator,” says Smith, who was a finalist in the NSW Innovation Awards.

“I am happy to finish my degree part-time because the support I get from UTS, along with access to all the facilities, is amazing. We’ve got a really good working prototype at the moment, so this prize money will go to the development costs associated with that,” he says.

The IBISWorld 3P Innovation Competition, hosted by UTS Business School, is open to all UTS students in the innovation and commercialisation space and gives them the chance to explore business ideas that consider people, planet and profit.

This year’s second and third place winners also pitched ideas linked to healthcare, winning $8000 and $5000 respectively, thanks to sponsorship from business research company IBISWorld, whose founder, Phil Ruthven is a judge in the competition.

Second prize went to 19-year-old Surithi Yogalin, who is studying a Bachelor of Advanced Science and Creative Intelligence and Innovation and impressed the judges with her vision to provide affordable 3D printed silicon prosthetics for women who have had mastectomies.

Third place went to UTS MBAe student Alistair Schultz, whose business aims to provide support to patients facing a life-changing medical diagnosis who need assistance to navigate the health system and fully understand the implications of their medical condition.

Experienced entrepreneurs and business professionals mentored the entrants as they developed their business plans over the three-month span of the competition.

Other 3P finalists, who were awarded $500 each, included ELO, an app that helps people build their public speaking skills, GetCared, a platform offering discounted dental care, Gecko, a peer lending platform for unused items, and IMPRUV Sports, a feedback tool to reduce sporting injuries.

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