What is the product/service about?
We are introducing a platform that enables immersive delivery of digital therapy through VR and electroneurography-based hand tracking. The platform’s initial use case targets occupational therapy and training of activities of daily life for patients who are recovering from stroke and other severe conditions.
Where did the project idea come from?
Marek Polcak, VRgineers’ CEO, is a Biomedical Engineering graduate who has dedicated his career to pushing the limits of new optical and XR technologies in healthcare. Marek is the author of VRgineers’ XTAL, the most advanced professional VR headset on the market. For the past two years, we have been actively working on developing a robust research programme investigating the best niche for XTAL within the healthcare ecosystem. We partnered with a number of clinical groups focused on neurodegenerative diseases who have been co-creating very specific use cases with us with focus on stationery set ups for patients with impaired motor and cognitive functions where image quality as well as patient’s comfort is critical for his or hers engagement. Seeing the results, they started requesting simulations for their own education needs and those of other medical professionals and this is how we came out with the idea of creating a VR platform which would be suitable for both interactions with patients as well as training of medical professionals. Our focus does not lie on content creation as such but rather on its delivery through integration of the most advanced proprietary hardware elements and data collection. This is how we create a unique VR experience which serves learning, therapeutic and research purposes at the same time.
Why did you select that specific target country?
We chose USA as our target country because it is a large single market with high adoption rate of digital therapies and VR as such. We have been commercially successful in the US without industry and training solutions and therefore felt comfortable piloting a new product idea in this market. During preparation of VR-DESOT, we had identified several interesting stakeholders and found a strategic partner who was interested in pursuing the idea with us.
Who are your partners in the target country?
Our key partner is PISON Technology, a startup founded by MIT graduates with deep ties to the Boston innovation ecosystem. The company has strong roots in creating assistive technology for people affected by ALS. Pison is the leader in gesture control, holding multiple patents and unique validated technologies. In addition, Pison is creating an applied nerve-sensing and insights platform addressing several emerging fields such as IoT, AR, neural interfaces, machine learning and autonomy. In VR-DESOT, we are integrating Pison’s technology stack as well as leveraging its presence in the Boston med tech ecosystem to help us prepare a strong business case and proposition for early adopters.
What is your long term vision for your company working in your chosen partner country?
We want to establish ourselves as a go-to partner for delivery of VR content and experiences. Our vision is to partner with both business and research to help shape what VR will eventually become in healthcare of the future. We know there is evidence to be built and the US offer the right infrastructure and mindset for us to accomplish this.
What impact do you believe INNOWWIDE will have on your company?
By granting us funding, INNOWWIDE gave us a strong mental and executive boost. Receiving an early validation in such a competitive programme together with resources to move to the next milestone helped us to proceed faster than we hoped for. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is making it more difficult for us to build new relationships at the moment but we are making sure to be well positioned to catch up once the pandemic is over.
Can you offer any advice or guidance to others looking to apply for INNOWWIDE grants?
Don’t hesitate to apply! Make sure you are drafting you application upon a problem that’s robust enough and you have the right partner on board who has a strong network in your target market. Keep in mind that the program is very fast-paced, 6 months runs by very fast, so don’t underestimate planning.