Innovate UK-funded Bristol bionic tech clinic opens in UK for amputees

Open Bionics JoelGibbard CEO with SamanthaPayne COO
OpenBionics JoelGibbardCEO, SamanthaPayneCOO

Bristol-based Open Bionics has launched its first clinic in the UK to deliver 3D printed bionic arms for amputees.

The clinic received a grant under Innovate UK’s Sustainable Innovation Fund aimed at building UK resilience following the coronavirus outbreak. It enabled Open Bionics to switch from being a manufacturer of bionic limbs to a clinical provider.

Based in Bristol, the new clinic produces the Hero Arm, the company’s life-changing product for individuals with below-elbow limb differences. Since the clinic launch, the company has experienced an influx of patients travelling from all around the UK to have access to the life-changing bionic technology.

One of the first patients to receive medical care at the clinic was Caroline Coster. A COVID-19 survivor, Caroline also suffered from viral sepsis as a result of catching the virus, requiring her to undergo a quadruple amputation.

Using new technologies such as 3D scanning, 3D modelling, automation, and 3D printing, the Open Bionics clinic is the first clinic in the UK to offer 3D printed sockets. These are a critical part that ensures a prosthesis like the Hero Arm fits like a glove and offers optimal comfort. Since launching, the clinic has fitted bionic arms for adults and children from as young as eight years old with below-elbow limb differences.

Caroline Coster said: “The first time I picked up a ball with my Hero Arm and I held it and dropped it, it felt like having a superpower.

“Having the technical and clinical expertise as part of the prosthesis fitting process was really incredible as I was able to see how the Hero Arm could be customised to meet my personal needs.”

Open Bionics co-founder Joel Gibbard MBE said: “While COVID-19 forced our business and community into uncharted territory, we’ve always listened to the needs of our customers. The idea to serve customers directly came from our community who wanted technical information about the product included as part of their clinical experience.”

Simon Edmonds, Deputy Executive Chair and Chief Business Officer, Innovate UK said: “During the pandemic innovation in Britain did not stop. At Innovate UK we have been helping businesses and people through the pandemic. Nowhere demonstrates this more than at Open Bionics. The work they do every day brings hope and help to those who need prosthetic arms. Not only are Open Bionics transforming lives, they are also creating new jobs and driving economic growth.”

Open Bionics was founded in 2014 by Joel Gibbard MBE and Samantha Payne MBE to develop affordable, assistive devices that enhance the human body.

The Bristol-based bionics company is known globally for using 3D printing and 3D scanning to make advanced, affordable and accessible bionic limbs. In October 2020, Open Bionics launched the latest version of its Hero Arm, bringing greater reliability, comfort and quality to their flagship product, with upgrades that include robust laser-sintered frames, innovative socket technology, and new magnetic covers.