15 March 2019

A funding boost for a business aiming to produce bionic limbs that don't cost an arm and a leg capped another successful Startup Festival at the University of Edinburgh Business School.
Moritz Müller and Iman Mouloudi of Augment Bionics

Last week’s fourth annual festival saw a day of activities at the Business School and at the Codebase technology incubator. The day culminated with a Pitching Competition in which original business ideas competed for a prize of £1,000 and executive coaching from Business School experts.

This year’s winner was Augment Bionics, a student-led project based at the University of Edinburgh, focused on building affordable 3D-printed prosthetic arms. The team has developed a prototype at a raw material cost of £250; prosthetic arms usually cost thousands of pounds.

The team hopes to use the prize money to boost its development. At the moment the number of upper-extremity amputees in the UK is 330,000, with demand for replacement limbs expected to grow due to increasing rates of diabetes and trauma. Augment Bionics is already working with NHS healthcare workers to help develop their product.

Elisabeth Feldstein, co-founder of Augment Bionics, said:

“Winning the pitch competition was very exciting for Augment Bionics! We have been so pleased with the overwhelming support we have been receiving.

As we are in the early stages and are still prototyping, the positive feedback is extremely encouraging. We have been fortunate to have made it to the final stages for many prestigious funding competitions. With the results of these competitions due to be announced soon we are hoping to use these funds to rapidly fuel our research and development.

“Once we have a viable prototype for market we hope to make use of the relationships we have built within the healthcare industry, specifically within the NHS, in order to provide an alternative accessible prosthetic for users.”

The runners-up were #hashtag, who hope to transform fashion brands’ social media reach, and The Last Mile, who aim to connect remote communities in the Philippines to digital media.

Earlier in the day, the festival heard stories from start-ups, including the One Cherry charity shopping platform, the Lilypads sanitary products social enterprise (winners of the 2017 E-Club Pitching Competition) and the Aspen Partnerships knowledge network. Invisible Cities, Starbit digital and Edinburgh eatery Hendersons gave audiences a tour of the joys and pains of growing and adapting.

The festival hosted a high-level industry round table with experienced Edinburgh-based founders to discuss why success is a long game and more likely to happen for those in their 40s and 50s, countering the popular myth that steady-growth businesses are led by tech-savvy 20-year-olds.

The Startup Festival once again offered inspiration and networking opportunities for entrepreneurs and students. We’re already looking forward to next year!