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“Adam’s Hand - The World’s First Fully-Adaptive Bionic Hand” involves the creation of the world’s first fully adaptive bionic hand for people that have undergone upper limb amputation. Unlike the prosthetic hands currently on the market, which are based on standard preset grip patterns and do not fully meet users’ needs, Adam’s Hand will automatically adapt to the shape and size of grasped objects, so that it can perform about 90% of the movements of a human hand. This bionic hand will be the first upper limb myoelectric-controlled prosthesis, i.e. activated by users’ muscle signals, thanks to a mechanism, already patented across Europe, which exploits mechanical intelligence combined with an Artificial Intelligence algorithm. It uses only one motor to move all the fingers and will include active rotation of the thumb and greater flexibility of the wrist integrated with the hand.
The project received 1,000,000 euro in funding from the NOP Research and Innovation 2014-2020 under “Thematic Projects - Key Enabling Technologies – KETs” through the Fund of Funds for Research and Innovation managed by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and designed to increase investment in research and development. The EU resources available to the Fund of Funds are invested through one or more financial intermediaries and may take the form of loans, equity or quasi-equity, or equivalent instruments. Specifically, this project received risk finance investments in the form of equity and quasi-equity. The project’s financial requirements will be covered, for the remaining portion of the co-investment, by the Italia Venture II Fund, managed by Cassa Depositi e Prestiti Venture Capital SGR.
Impact on the Territory
The recipient of the funding is BionIT Labs Srl, an innovative startup based in Soleto, near Lecce, which develops medical devices by applying innovative ICT technologies to bionics with the aim to improve the quality of life of disabled people and facilitate their integration into society and the labour market. The project has a high social impact since it will allow a significant number of people with severe upper limb disability to use an innovative product at a competitive cost compared to premium versions currently offered by competitors.
Adam’s Hand will be the first poly-articulated hand prosthesis fully developed by an Italian company to reach the orthopaedic clinic market. It will be extremely light and easy to use and maintain while the presence of a single motor means it can be sold at a lower price than competitors’ products. The device will reach the Italian market at the beginning of 2022 and will then be launched in major European countries and in the United States.
Finally, the project is in line with the right-to-repair principle that is receiving considerable attention in Europe since Adam’s Hand can be directly repaired by technicians in orthopaedic clinics without the need to send the device to the manufacturer for repair, as is currently the case for the products of the two main competitors.
The implementation of this project will require BionIT to hire about 30 people and will bring its Technology Readiness Level (TRL) from 5 to 8.