June 15, 2015 5:09 pm
Updated: June 20, 2015 1:45 pm

Halifax entrepreneurs vying for $100,000 prize, hope to get new knee brace to market

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WATCH: A Halifax-based startup company is vying for a $100,000 prize in hopes of bringing their innovative knee brace to market. Spring Loaded Technology is developing what they believe is the world’s first bionic knee bracing technology, and have been named the Nova Scotia finalist for the 2015 BDC Young Entrepreneur Award. Rebecca Lau reports.

HALIFAX – A Halifax-based startup company is vying for a $100,000 prize in hopes of bringing their innovative knee brace to market.

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Spring Loaded Technology is developing what they believe is the world’s first bionic knee bracing technology, and have been named the Nova Scotia finalist for the 2015 BDC Young Entrepreneur Award.

Co-founders Chris Cowper-Smith and Bob Garrish say their brace is capable of holding the body weight of a 250 lb person, but is still lightweight and can be worn under clothing.

“Inside this arm of the brace is our energy storage mechanism, so when you crouch like a spring your weight is actually stored in the brace,” said Garrish, the company’s chief technology officer, as he holds up a prototype.

“As you crouch, all of your weight is taken up. The brace does what your quadricep muscle would normally need to do.”

The two entrepreneurs met as Dalhousie University students and initially developed the product to help athletes recovering from sports injuries. Over the years, they say they have realized the brace’s potential to help an even larger audience.

“[Our potential customers are] people that have bad knees and movement disability. If you lose the ability to crouch, then your world starts at chest height and that’s your life now,” Garrish said.

“Being able to take care of yourself, being able to go down stairs, being able to pick up your grandkids — for me, those are the exciting [customers].”

The company has gone through several prototypes and designs and are close to having a market-ready product. Their goal is to begin selling the braces by the end of 2015.

Winning the $100,000 prize from the Business Development of Canada would speed up that process.

“Without the grand prize at the moment, we have to rely on third party industry partners to embed our hinge technology into their brace arms,” said Cowper-Smith, the company’s president and CEO.

“We’re dependent on third party manufacturers. Winning this prize would help us become totally self-sufficient as a Canadian business.”

The company plans to manufacture the braces in Nova Scotia and distribute the product worldwide.

Their mentor and investor, John Hamlin, has already been promised one of the first working models.

Hamlin has had a hip replacement and has recently had knee pain. He was quick to jump on board with the company after hearing their pitch because he believes he can truly benefit from their product.

“I’m in constant pain when I’m moving,” he said.

“My 7 and 5-year-old grandkids happen to live with me. They like to play outside and I like to play with them. To have more mobility, is just a fantastic possibility.”

Voting for the BDC Young Entrepreneur Award ends on June 17.

To learn more about Spring Loaded Technology and vote for the company at www.voteknees.com.

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