Just like the purposeful gait of their child-sized robotic exoskeleton, the entrepreneurs behind University of Toronto startup Trexo Robotics are propelling their young business forward one step at at time. Co-founders Manmeet Maggu and Rahul Udasi this week took first prize in a pitch competition organized by the philanthropic arm of Sunnybrook Hospital in partnership with U of T’s Health Innovation Hub, or H2i, incubator, among others. The judges, including representatives from private equity funds and medical device companies, were won over by Trexo’s vision to help children living with physical challenges swap their wheelchair for a walker-like device equipped with robotic “Iron Man” leg attachments. “The prize is going to be really helpful in enabling us to reach a commercial point,” said Maggu of the roughly $35,000 that Trexo will take home. “The next batch of products we make, I’ll be taking one back to India for my nephew.” That would be nine-year-old Praneit, who has cerebral palsy. He inspired Maggu and Udasi to build a robotic exoskeleton prototype while they were studying engineering at the University of Waterloo. The idea ultimately led to the launch of a promising startup after the pair arrived at U of T, where Maggu did an MBA at the Rotman School of Management and Udasi completed a master’s in engineering. In the summer of 2016, Maggu and Udasi packed the prototype exoskeleton in a suitcase and flew to India to visit Maggu’s brother, his wife and Praneit, who tried out the device in the middle of the living room. “Watching Praneit take his first steps using our device was an incredibly proud moment for us,” Maggu told U of T News back in June.
September 5, 2018
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