An imperial spinout company behind a digital therapy and rehabilitation platform has secured $11 million of investment funding.
GripAble, formed by researchers at Imperial College London and clinicians at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, is a digital assessment and training platform supporting individuals undergoing rehabilitation for both neurological and musculoskeletal conditions. With a focus on hand and arm function, rehabilitation programmes are delivered through interactive mobile technologies that have been designed to motivate, track progress and provide real-time biofeedback.
Over five million people in the UK live with arm weakness e.g. due to stroke. The only intervention shown to improve arm function is repetitive, task-specific exercise. However, this has been limited by the cost, access to and availability of occupational therapists and physiotherapists.
Clinical trials have shown that Gripable’s platform can increase the amount of arm exercises stroke patients do without professional supervision. Now, with $11 million of new funding led by the IP Group, with equal investment from Parkwalk Advisors, the GripAble team can advance their mission to develop and expand accessible care approaches to all, delivering high volumes of efficient and personalised therapy from the hospital to the home.
The company was set up at Imperial in 2016 as a collaboration between the groups of Dr Paul Bentley, Clinical Director of the Imperial College Network of Excellence in Rehabilitation Technology, and Professor Etienne Burdet from Imperial's Department of Bioengineering. The aim was to help patients with arm weakness achieve the number of repetitive movements needed for real rehabilitation.
Professor Burdet commented: “While rehabilitation robotics has been confined to (typically expensive upmarket) hospitals, GripAble’s pervasive technology promises a revolution in rehabilitation, by supporting patients’ diagnostic and training in decentralised centers and at home. In turn it will facilitate the creation of patient specific treatments that thanks to mobile technology and artificial intelligence adapt as the patient improves.”
Dr. Bentley added: “In just over five years GripAble has rocketed from being a laboratory design concept to an actual therapeutic used in hundreds of centres globally. This is a paragon of translational research, and made possible by inter-disciplinary collaborations between Engineering and Medicine; highly motivated junior researchers (who now run the company); and thanks to seed funding from the Sir Leon Bagrit Memorial Trust and the Imperial Enterprise Division. This new funding will allow GripAble to expand its reach so that more people will be able to access and benefit this technology.”
Martin Glen, Investment Director at Parkwalk Advisors, said: “Parkwalk is excited to be backing this breakthrough digital rehabilitation technology as it grows and enters new markets. In particular, we are hopeful that GripAble can reproduce its strong initial success in the UK in the significantly larger US market. This would enable many more patients to access the sustained level of rehabilitation therapy that they require for a positive outcome post-injury.”
GripAble was an early investment in the Parkwalk-managed Imperial College Innovation Fund (ICIF) and is the third ICIF company to go on to raise a substantial subsequent round (Charco, Bonnet and GripAble). It is a reflection of the strength of Imperial College London’s research in STEM subjects that this breakthrough technology emerged from its labs.
With more than 8,000 individuals having already used the platform, GripAble has established itself as a leading technology in the remote-rehabilitation space in the UK, recording 100,000 activity sessions and 27 million movement repetitions across its users.
This article was first published on 12 April by Imperial College London.