In 2019 Walk With Path applied for the SME Instrument Horizon 2020 funding, which is the biggest research and innovation programme in the EU. The SME instrument helps highly innovative SMEs who want to develop, grow and internationalise, but can't find financing on the market because of their high-risk character. It has a track record of supporting companies with breakthrough discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market. Walk With Path received funding to further develop Path Feel and finish the existing prototype, validate, certify and introduce it to the market. The first six months have been incredible and so much has happened.
Growing the Team
One of the important things that the SME Instrument enabled us to do was to grow our team. We now have a strong team of engineers who are key in helping make the insole capable of measuring pressure and gait parameters. Some of the new additions to the team include: Hardware Engineer, Antoine Passelande, Electronic Engineer, Ignacio Escudero and Signal Processing Engineer, Ingvar Kircenko.
Finalising the Prototype
Having a strong engineering team has helped us to further develop and finalise the Path Feel prototype. We are now ready for the next step where we will be testing the Path Feel insole on people with diabetes. The study, which will focus on balance and gait improvement is conducted with Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), led by Professor Neil Reeves.
North America Market Opportunities
The SME funding has also enabled members of the team to travel to key markets in order to network and establish ground for future commercialisation. In the beginning of 2020, Lise Pape and Nuala Burke went to Canada, Boston and New York. We lined up a range of meetings with stakeholders. In Boston, Walk With Path was taking part in the MassChallenge HealthTech event, which has since led to a lot of interesting and fruitful networking opportunities. One of the key advantages for Walk With Path, was the opportunity to partner with AARP, who have helped us with US market research for Path Feel, and enabled interviews with both healthcare professionals and diabetics in the US.
MassChallenge was founded in 2010 with a purpose to make it as easy as possible for entrepreneurs to launch and grow new ventures. With the SME funding, Walk With Path was able to participate in the programme taking place in the US along with 26 other selected startups.
MassChallenge is a global network of zero-equity startup accelerators and the Boston and Rhode Island Awards is a culminating event to recognize the groundbreaking startups in the 2020 cohorts, convening a global community of innovation leaders. Not only were Walk With Path selected to participate in the world wide recognised programme, but as it turned out 6 months later the participation resulted in Walk With Path winning the Mass Challenge Diamond Award. Winning the Mass Challenge Diamond Award is a significant achievement and will help establish acknowledgement and recognition in the industry - and open doors especially in North America.
“MassChallenge is very recognised in the field and will open a lot of doors for us,” said Lise Pape, Director of Walk With Path; “Being part of the MassChallenge network will help us create awareness and leverage interest for Path Feel.”
During the next few months we are looking forward to conducting the clinical pilot study, finalising the protocol for the next phase, and keep creating awareness for our work.