Double award success for inclusive MedTech design project

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An innovative design project involving researchers from the University's School of Engineering scooped two prizes at The Engineer UK awards.

Elevex, previously called the SMART Suit, won the Healthcare & Medical category and the overall Grand Prix at The Engineer’s Collaborate to Innovate (C2I) Awards which celebrate the UK’s depth of engineering and design talent and the role that engineers and designers are playing in addressing some of the biggest challenges we face.

Elevex is a first of its kind soft exoskeleton suit to help children and young people living with progressive neuromuscular diseases use their upper limb.

Dr Farnaz Nickpour, Director of The Inclusionaries Lab and her team are working with Duchenne UK (DUK) and Spinal Muscular Atrophy UK (SMA UK) to develop the transformative assistive device which will support and enhance upper body movement in children and young people living with progressive neuromuscular diseases such as Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) and Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).

Dr Nickpour said: “The 2 awards for Elevex recognise the collaborative input of the amazing children and young people and their families who have led us so far with their invaluable lived-experience insights and critical feedback on a series of prototypes tested for the first time with boys and girls living with DMD and SMA.

“Projects in this space could only be driven by the uncompromising mandate and the urgency of unmet need that patient-led organisations like DUK and SMA UK represent. They advocate for important parts of our society currently disserved by innovative design and technology that is readily available to the rest of us within the wider consumer market. As an inclusive and human-centred design research lab, we fully support this mission and offer the best of our expertise.”

The C2I competition was judged by some of the leading figures in UK engineering and was supported by organisations including Babcock International Group, Science and Technology Facilities Council, EPSRC, Engineering UK, Megger, Hays Recruitment, Igus, and Ejot.

The project is supported with £1.25M from the People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund.