Professor Cathy Bulley, Dr Kavi Jagadamma and Professor Derek Santos are researchers from the Division of Dietetics, Nutrition and Biological Sciences at QMU.  The team were granted a University Innovation Fellowship in 2018/19 to progress Smart-Strap Technology, developed in QMU's Orthotics Laboratory, to be used in footwear for people who experience foot-drop and are at risk of tripping, falling and fatigue.  In 2020/21, after filing their patent application, they were awarded a further University Innovation Fellowship entitled Footwear with Smart-Strap Technology - developing the Minimum Viable Product

Foot Drop can affect people following a stroke, people with Multiple Sclerosis, or as a consequence of trauma, nerve disease or cerebral palsy.  As well as presenting a physical impact in terms of decreased mobility and an increase in the chances of injury, people with Foot Drop report a loss of self-esteem and a reduction in quality of life. 

The researchers, who are linked with the Centre for Person-centred Research, also work in partnership with the Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre to prove that Smart-Strap technology can address some of these challenges by improving the options available to manage Foot Drop. 

Footwear with Smart-Strap technology - developing the Minimum Viable Product

The team has been granted a QMU Innovation Fellowship to collaborate with a partner to finalise the Minimum Viable Product (MVP), and through consultation, refine the shoe design with a view to creating the Minimum Marketable Product (MMP) ready for launch.  Delivering a MMP will enable the team to find further support from Scottish Enterprise.

Smart-Strap Technology

Professor Cathy Bulley, Dr Kavi Jagadamma and Professor Derek Santos were awarded a University Innovation Fellowship in 2018/19 to develop a health-related application called Smart-Strap Technology to the point of prototyping, IP audit, commissioning of patent filing with a view to securing support from Scottish Enterprise. 

"The Innovation Fellowship supported early progression of a non-profit social enterprise called the Health Design Collective (HDC). We aim to co-design health products with the people who use them."

The Innovation Fellowships helped buy-out time of three QMU-based directors of the HDC.  (The fourth director is Gillian Robinson of the Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre, pictured on the far left of the main picture.) "This helped to accelerate our progress: we registered our community interest company (CIC); the team won the runners-up award in the Social Enterprise category challenge and were finalists in the Scottish Edge Wild Card category in October 2018."

After HDC's  first co-design workshop in January 2019 they progressed prototyping and conducted an IP Audit. The Innovation Fellowship also helped the team take the necessary steps to file their patent. 

Scottish Enterprise encouraged them to participate in their Biocity Pre-accelerator Workshop.  After taking part, Gillian Robinson successfully pitched for a place on the full accelerator programme to support further progression.  Participation in the programme led the team to define their value proposition as 'Attractive, affordable, effective and comfortable footwear for Foot Drop'.

In May 2020, the team completed filing of their patent application relating to Smart Strap Technology.  In September 2020 they were awarded a second Innovation Fellowship to create the Minimum Viable Product.