A new wheelchair and ramp designed to fit into standard vehicles without costly modifications and a system for keeping elderly people safe in their homes were both awarded $10,000 in the School of Rehabilitation Sciences Innovation Challenge.

The challenge was conducted in conjunction with the Innovation Institute’s First Gear innovation commercialization program, where Pitt innovators can discover the commercial potential of their discoveries.

Each First Gear team is composed of a faculty principal investigator (PI), an entrepreneurial lead (EL), which is typically a student, and a business mentor (M). Two of the nine projects in the most recent cohort were the winners and included McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty members as principal investigators:

  • Saver — A wheelchair designed to fit into standard vehicles.

PI: Rory Cooper, PhD (pictured top)
EL: Brandon Daveler; Chang Dae Lee
M: Robert Huemmrich

  • Mobius — Improving senior’s ability to stay in their homes safely.

PI: David Brienza, PhD (pictured bottom)
EL: Paulina Villacreces; Alexandra Delazio; Jennifer McCartney
M: Ian Magazine

First Gear provides participants with $3,000 to assist in market research and customer discovery activities, along with one-on-one mentoring through the eight-week program. For the third time, the School of Rehabilitation Sciences has sponsored a competition as part of First Gear in order to encourage faculty and students translate their research from the lab to the market where it can have an impact outside the university.

Congratulations, all!

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Innovation Institute News Release