Transforming compassion into passion projects

Ventures ilab Accelerator 2021 cohort.

Ventures ilab Accelerator 2021 cohort.

The University of Queensland’s 2021 Ventures ilab Accelerator program has awarded 12 startups with $10,000 equity-free funding to help launch their early-stage ventures.

Bachelor of Science student Nathaniel Marshall is transforming the medtech industry with his startup ‘Deep Connection’ by developing wearable devices to return fine motor control to people living with upper limb loss and neurological diseases.

The subject is close to home after seeing a number of his family members suffer from neurological diseases.

“My grandfather passed away from Alzheimer’s and a number of other neurological issues which drove me to study neuroscience,’ Mr Marshall said.

“Due to the lack of adequate solutions in the space, I felt compelled to help.’

The hardware he is creating captures large quantities of muscle data from sensors on the skin and uses recently developed deep learning artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to extract features from the muscle data that indicate hand actions.

“With data collected from non-disabled users we can bridge the information gap and provide fine-motor function to robotic prostheses,’ he said.

Mr Marshall said he found there was a lack of innovation in the robotic prosthesis market, but discovered multiple technologies that had the potential to bring value to people living with limb loss or neurological diseases.

“Current solutions often don’t meet user expectations, so it often appears from a patient’s perspective that no-one is offering cost effective solutions.’

Joining him is fellow innovator and UQ alumnus Ashley Hanger who is also making an impact in the health industry.

Her venture ‘Stripped Supply’ is a monthly subscription box for Type One Diabetics automating the resupply of basic products.

Her partner was diagnosed with diabetes at 11 months old and describes his daily challenges - from counting carbohydrates to managing the mental burden of living with a debilitating chronic illness - as her inspiration to bring Stripped Supply to life.

“Knowing millions of Australians are living with the same burden inspires me to make managing their illness as simple as possible,’ she said.

Ventures ilab Accelerator program provides equity-free funding, access to UQ's global mentoring network, workshops, guidance from UQ’s Entrepreneur in Residence, partner deals, desk space and investor introductions, and concludes with a major investor pitch event.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement and Entrepreneurship) Dr Jessica Gallagher said this marks the 17th iteration of the ilab Accelerator program with startups ranging from the health and mining sectors to the education, finance and employment industries.

“As one of Australia’s longest running accelerator programs, we are committed to building a solid pipeline of early-stage startups with great potential and nurture them into strong and sustainable businesses,’ Dr Gallagher said.

“We have been part of the journey for many successful startups that have transformed industries and we hope to connect the latest cohort with the funding, mentors and resources to solve global challenges, and accelerate their success.’

Mr Marshall’s and Ms Hanger’s startups join 10 others in the 2021 ilab Accelerator cohort including:

  • Endla - Creating auto-design and optimisation tools to solve engineering problems in the energy and resources sector.
  • Bloom Impact Investing - A platform to invest in companies that support climate action.
  • Deep Connection - Innovating fine-motor control to improve robotic prosthetics for people with upper limb loss.
  • Yuva AI - Streamlining the process tagged imagery to support the development of AI for medical imagery devices.
  • Tinn-E - The iconic Australian Tinnie reimagined as a silent, sustainable, accessible and versatile electric family boat.
  • Mine-R - Automating the analysis of satellite imagery to provide longitudinal mining rehabilitation outcomes.
  • Bigbluemarble India - A suite of sustainable toiletry products for the environmentally conscious consumer, and the hospitality and tourism industries.
  • SparkTank - A collaborative dynamic brainstorming tool with a focus on community development.
  • Stripped Supply - A monthly subscription box for Type One Diabetics automating the resupply of basic products.
  • Wine Valet - Virtual restaurant wine experiences using predictive AI recommendations for private gatherings.
  • Acude Foundation - Fun, online learning experiences for children and parents, to immerse and sustain cultural connections, and build socially-aware world citizens.
  • Arteh - A platform to help companies report on their climate change impact to align with the international Paris Agreement.

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