NextStep Robotics raises $500K While Eying the Introduction of the product

Applied Tech Review | Friday, December 18, 2020

NextStep Robotics raised $500,000 in new funding to help the company progress toward the launch of its wearable device to treat a condition that’s common in stroke survivors.

FREMONT, CA: The bridge round included participation from a pair of previous investors in the company. Maryland Momentum Fund, the venture fund of the University System of Maryland, invested $25,000 — the same amount it did in 2018 when NextStep became the then-nascent fund’s second investment. The Baltimore-based Abell Foundation, which makes early-stage investments to create jobs in Baltimore, also returned as an investor and a new investor University of Maryland Global Campus.

Born out of a decade of research at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and Baltimore Veterans Affairs Motor Performance Laboratory, the three-year-old company’s robotic device, and software are designed to treat foot drop, limiting a patient’s ability to lift a toe while walking. The device, called AMBLE, is worn by patients during therapy. The product also has a software component that uses AI and assigns training.

The CEO of the company Brad Hennessie said that funding would help NextStep as it works toward product launch and initial device placement with physical therapists.

Based out of downtown Baltimore medtechstartup studio, the Maryland Development Center has received a mix of investment and grant funding, including a cooperative agreement with the National Institute of Health National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke worth up to $5.4 million. Through this, NIH researchers served as the principal investigator on the research, and the company collaborated to create a pathway for the technology to be reimbursed via existing health insurance codes.

Hennessie has been a passionate voice for entrepreneurship that gets research from universities out into broader use. And like many founders, he is also looking ahead while moving the current project: The company sees additional treatment uses for the underlying technology and recently received a grant through the Maryland Industrial Partnerships to explore arm training support with University of Maryland School of Medicine Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science professor Dr. Kelly Westlake.

Hennessie also said that they plan to first establish AMBLE as the ‘standard of care’ for foot drop, but they see great potential to develop other devices that, combined with their AI software, and will be able to address other disabilities.

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