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The Moscow city government has bought 20 medical rehabilitation exoskeletons made by Skolkovo resident ExoAtlet for local clinics, where they will be used to help disabled people regain the ability to walk. The sale marks ExoAtlet’s first bulk order.
The first batch of five ExoAtlet exoskeletons going out for delivery from Skolkovo's Hypercube on Monday. They were delivered to the Shvetsovaya rehabilitation centre in Moscow later the same day. Photo: Sk.ru.
The first of the exoskeletons were sent out for delivery on Monday from Skolkovo’s Hypercube, where ExoAtlet works from the innovation city’s hackspace. That batch of five exoskeletons was destined for the Shvetsovaya social and medical rehabilitation centre in Moscow.
“This is the first time we have sold a consignment of exoskeletons to state institutions,” ExoAtlet CEO and co-founder Ekaterina Bereziy told Sk.ru.
ExoAtlet, which is attached to the wearer like an external skeleton, enables patients to stand up, sit down, walk and go up and down stairs without assistance. Regular training in an exoskeleton improves the patient’s muscle tone and a range of other health factors, as well as their self-confidence and overall wellbeing, the company says.
The ExoAtlet enables disabled people to walk again. Photo: Sk.ru.
The move from individual sales to bulk orders for such a complex medical device is an important step for any startup, said Albert Yefimov, head of Skolkovo’s Robocentre.
“But what’s also important is that the ExoAtlet team has achieved this in just one year,” he said. “That timeline for starting to make an industrial product would have been simply unbelievable without the acceleration of this project by Skolkovo using all the means available to us. I think our aim for 2018 will be the first bulk sale of Russian exoskeletons abroad.”
ExoAtlet, a resident startup of Skolkovo’s Robocentre within the IT cluster, began selling its exoskeletons earlier this year, after obtaining certification as a medical product from the Health Ministry at the end of June.
The new expanded sales mean the ExoAtlet team will have to train the doctors who are going to be working with the exoskeletons. The company will hold two training sessions in the near future: one on December 23 for doctors of the Moscow clinics that are due to receive exoskeletons, and a five-day course beginning on January 30 for those same doctors along with medical staff from the Burdenko Main Military Hospital in Moscow, and from the town of Saki in Crimea.
“It’s really good for people in Moscow that they are getting access to exoskeletons, as until now, there was only one ExoAtlet in Moscow: at the Pirogov National Medical and Surgical Centre,” said Bereziy.
“We’re equipping a lot of clinics all at once, and that’s possibly the first step to getting exoskeletons into general practice doctors’ surgeries. Doctors will learn to work with the exoskeletons, develop a method, and the next stage is being able to talk about creating a standard,” she said.
There are an estimated 350,000 people in Russia living with spinal injuries. Eight thousand people a year sustain spinal injuries in car accidents alone.
ExoAtlet won the RBC media group’s award for the Breakthrough of the Year earlier this month, “for developing a product capable of changing people’s lives for the better.”
The company, which grew out of a joint project between Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry and a team of scientists from Moscow State University, won the first prize at Skolkovo’s Startup Village in June 2014 and became a resident of the foundation’s IT cluster soon afterwards. Last year, it was awarded a grant of 50 million rubles ($793,000) by the foundation for the second stage of its development.