Tag Archives: Technology Start-up

Open Bionics – The prosthetic pioneers making science fiction a reality

Samantha Payne and Joel Gibbard form Open Bionics, an organisation that want to change the way bionic limbs are currently manufactured in order to make them more accessible to amputees. By using an innovative technique of 3D printing, Open Bionics scan the residual limb, print a socket to create the perfect fit and then continue to print the remainder of the bionic limb. This technique aims to reduce the cost of purchasing a bionic arm for example, from between £30,000-£80,000 to less than £4,000.

Not only will the lower cost make bionic limbs more readily accessible, the team also share their development findings with the open source community. They have a firm belief that sharing their own experience enables others to use their designs as long as they provide feedback that they can develop from.

Open Bionics have set out to revolutionise the field of robotic prosthetics, creating affordable, accessible, unique limbs for everyone. They are only two years in and still at the research stage but they are already in the top 50 robotics companies in the world. The Open Bionics team is fronted by Joel Gibbard and Samantha Payne. We recently met up with Samantha who gave us an insight into this young exciting company.

Samantha was working as a freelance journalist for a local newspaper in her home town of Bristol when she first met Joel. She recalls, “Joel had just finished a very successful crowd funding campaign called the ‘Open Hand Project’ to produce a low cost 3D printed bionic hand. She was assigned to the story. After the successful crowd funding campaign Joel quit his job to make open-source hands for amputees. Shortly after that he discovered a competition run by Intel which was looking for the best wearable tech project.

The winner would receive $500,000. He quickly got back in touch with Samantha asking for her help with the all-important pitch. There were more than 500 applicants and this was soon trimmed down to 30. The 30 entrants were given the opportunity to enter a three-month intense programme/competition in the USA.  Samantha quit her job and the two of them set up Open Bionics and travelled to the States with the hope of winning the money. After three months, the numbers were cut from 30 to 10. The pair made it through to the end of the process but were pipped at the post, securing second place and a prize worth $250,000 which was enough to set up the business. During the three months in the States, the intense programme gave them the skills and knowledge of how to set up, market and drive a start-up company. They used the money to hire a main core engineering team and set up their lab in 2015.

One of the significant elements they took from the programme was the importance of understanding your audience. “We turned immediately to Dan Melville. He was amazing. We had worked with him before on the Open Hand Project and he helped us a great deal to understand prosthetics, the history, usage, design and potential. He also introduced us to loads of people who have built or used prosthetics.”

We later met Dan in the Open Bionics studio. He said, “I was born with only one full arm and never truly got on with the traditional prosthetic. When I came across the Open Hand Project on Kickstarter, I saw the title ‘3D Printed, low cost, bionic arm.’ I was intrigued.” Dan quickly got in touch with Joel to offer his help on the testing front and within months he was in the studio testing the first prototype. “I’d brought my brother along and once the hand was fitted I was able to shake his hand, which was pretty emotional.” Two years on, Dan is still one of the main testers at Open Bionics and travels to lots of global events to promote the business. He said, “I think what the team are doing is amazing. I’m so excited about the future of prosthetics and feel so privileged to play a small part in bringing these particular bionic limbs to reality.” He talked us through a number of movements the bionic arm he was testing could do… open and close to pick up a mug of coffee or bottle, grip to pick up small things like screws and a bunch of keys and a half hand to pick up carrier bags, as well as a finger point and thumbs up to be able to gesture.bionic-arm

The process Open Bionics use to produce the current robotic limbs is quite unique. They use a 3D scanner to scan the residual limb and then use a 3D printer to produce the socket for a perfect fit. The 3D printer then continues to make the rest of the robotic limb. It’s this printing technique that enables the customisation that previously wasn’t available. Amputees can currently pay anything from £30,000-£80,000 for a bionic arm, but Open Bionics want to create limbs that will cost less than £4,000. The focus now is to create a lightweight limb with a comfortable socket that will ideally have some form of temperature control, can perform multi-grip functions and importantly, look great. The latest one in development is based on a fictional character called Adam Jenson from the game Deus Ex. Next up is the Disney line and then the Marvel Superheroes line, making prosthetics appealing for kids. Samantha told us that they want to work on something specific for upper arm amputees and then exoskeletons to give people movement who may have suffered a stroke or have some other debilitating condition which restricts movement.

From an early stage Open Bionics have been truly transparent in their development, sharing lots of findings with the open source community. They set up the Ada hand project, a platform for research into prosthetics, object grasping and many human-robot-interaction applications. “Our open source licence aims to build a community to allow people to use our designs as long as they feed back on the results and share any developments they have made.” This allows Open Bionics to harness expertise to develop and advance the current offering, creating a cycle where hopefully the designs and manufacture will keep on improving and benefit everyone. The Ada hands have a global reach and can be found in many countries across the world. Sam informed us that they have never taken out an advertisement or spent any money on marketing so they are constantly amazed when new orders arrive.
The team have received global acclaim, won numerous awards and continue to push the boundaries with innovative technology. In the past, the manufacture of bionic hands has been generic and out of touch with individual requirements, but Open Bionics have changed that by initiating debate with amputees with the idea of developing a product aimed at comfort and affordability. “What we do is really rewarding, every development we make feels like a real leap forward and when we test the devices the reactions we get from the amputees and their families are priceless.” Sam and Joel are clearly focused individuals who are committed to driving this young exciting team forward and helping to change the future of robotic limbs for good.

www.openbionics.com

Learn more about the #HealthcareHeroes at: www.healthcare-heroes.com

bionic-handshake

Why I don’t care what’s next

Innovation, by David Hunt

Firstly, I do care, and perhaps should be less flippant. However, commentating on the next pioneering technology is a really good excuse to ignore our deficiencies with the current tools at our disposal. I’d argue that we already have the technology necessary to build meaningful relationships, and our focus should be on maximising these.

Fully leveraging new technology during its infancy is unlikely. In the gaming world, it typically takes 12-18 months for engineers to fully utilise the power of the hardware offered by the latest generation of console. It’s okay for us to take our time, assuming we are making progress, building expertise and confidence. If we are getting closer to adopting the technology and enhancing the breadth of our communication platform – that’s okay. Progress doesn’t always have to be quick, but it should still be progress. Ask Yahoo, MySpace and Blackberry if they’d have sacrificed being first to be the best.

And, while we’re exploring what we already have, let’s play with what the future holds. I’ve always considered myself to be curious, and therefore quick to try the latest technology. Today, at Havas Lynx, I’m surrounded by millennials. To my astonishment, they are more demanding than me and more impatient than me – no mean feat. They are also much more agile in their take-up of technology. Aligned with experience, it is meaningful innovation beset on making a difference.

Do we need more technology? Or do we need to be better at using it? I’d argue that, if we ensure the latter, the former will bring more value.

Orchestrator

It sounds great, but how do you really know?

Merger; From the Inside, by David Hunt

Part II, Finer Details

You’ve found a partner, someone with shared values and ambitions, but what next? A huge number of deals never materialise, I’d speculate through anxiety, uncertainty, egos and inevitable complications. And that’s appropriate. Global groups want the best, and that can only be achieved with blood, sweat & tears. To be the best, you have to care.

Your agency is comfortable, reassuring, familiar. It’s successful, enjoyable, it is safe. “We can wait another twelve months!”, “We’re doing great on our own!!”, “It’s not the right time!!!” Anxiety and second thoughts are inevitable when  approaching a merger or acquisition. But as previously discussed on this blog, I believe to survive & succeed evolution is essential. We overcame our apprehension through complete internal alignment, one of our greatest strengths, and honest communication with Havas Health, one of theirs.

You fear seismic change when going through a merger. You’ve heard the scare stories, you know the risks. A creative imagination can fuel wild uncertainties. Fear of the unknown can be entirely debilitating. But your a great agency; decorated, profitable & happy. You know your people, you know your business, you know what works. You also also know your weaknesses. By identifying a true partner, their ambition will be improvement where & when it counts, not driving change for changes sake. It’s about evolving together, becoming stronger & better.

You have an ambition, and to realise it you’ve recognised the need for a partner. You respect the need for help. I think it is essential to maintain that respect throughout the process. If you are perfect, do not undertake a merger. If you recognise deficiencies at the outset remember them through the process, I’m sure being humble helps both parties.

I’ve worked for one agency. I intend to work for one network. I love my job & I have no desire to jump ship. As a Senior team I can only assume we are fairly unique in being entirely genuine regarding our long-term commitment. However, it is entirely right & appropriate to construct robust legal agreements, I understand a hand-shake is not enough. To complete a deal requires agreeing the finer details and addressing these complications – I’m sure it was easier having addressed everyone’s anxiety & uncertainty, and with egos left at the door. 

Part I, Initial engagement

Part III, Business as usual

Part IV, A year in & the lessons I learnt

HAVAS LYNX Named Havas Agency of the Year

Network life, by David Hunt

We joined the Havas network on the 31st May 2012. On the 22nd of January 2014 we were named Havas Agency of the year. This accolade is our single greatest award. Representing healthcare in a consumer world, competing with the likes of the brilliant BETC, Cake and One Green Bean, we have proven that pharmaceutical marketing can be just as exciting, just as creative and just as innovative as the B2C world. In fact, we have demonstrated that it can be better.

We joined Havas due to their passion, energy and creativity. They are the group behindEvian’s Roller Babies campaign (77 million views on YouTube) and the Baby & Me campaign (71 million views on YouTube). More recently, the team in Australia launched the Doug Pitt campaign and from Paris BETC launched ‘The Bear’ for Canal+.

Healthcare can often be seen as the ugly duckling of advertisement; stifling creativity in favour of science. I would argue that it simply raises the bar of the creative expertise required to succeed within the sector. I am not diminishing the talent required to make Aldi exciting, but it requires a different expertise, determination and creative confidence to succeed in healthcare communications.

There is a belief in media and communications that global networks buy all of the best talent and break them. There are a number of cases and stories within the industry of once amazing agencies losing their sparkle, independence and passion. This fear was echoed by a number of our clients when we announced our deal with Havas. Had our deal been purely based on financials we would have chosen a different partner. Had we not wanted to evolve the agency, and been happy to rest on our laurels, we would not have found a partner at all. As a senior team, we recognised the need to develop our offering, enhancing our global presence and bolstering our strategic offering, to complement our natural creativity and innovation. This award is a testament to Havas: making us stronger, not weaker; our service more agile, less bloated; our campaigns smarter, less fanciful.

Plane

It would be wrong to say that 2013 was easy. It was not. It was incredibly hard. In the first 6 months we had a number of tough projects, internal challenges and inevitable growing pains. The fact we turned things around and closed 2013 so strongly demonstrates the strength of character that runs from the bottom to the top of our agency, from strategy to delivery, from reception to board. It also fills us all with real confidence for 2014, as we look to build upon robust client partnerships, a responsive structure and exceptional people.

What next? HAVAS LYNX will continue to demonstrate that creativity and innovation in healthcare communications is defined by passion and ideas, not legislation and fear.

10, 20, 50, 100 or 1,000; what’s the perfect size for an agency?

Client / Agency relationships, by David Hunt

178, the size of HAVAS LYNX. Ask anyone that manages an agency of 178 & they will say the same – it’s perfect. I imagine that in a few weeks 181 will be even more perfect. 

For years we were perceived as being too small. Now we are too big to be innovative, yet still too small to be a player?!? I disagree with both opinions.

Innovation & creativity is not about headcount. Never has been, never will be. It’s about people, passion & culture. With a background in digital, technology & creativity, I was appointed CEO at the age of 33. I’m driven by ideas & not numbers. Supported by a management team that believes in great work, we  now invest in more diverse expertise, try more unique technologies & chase more ideas than ever before. We are constantly looking for new concepts for ourselves, for our clients, for HCPs & for patients.

Can you be small, commercially motivated & technology agnostic? With the correct approach and the right people, perhaps. However, are you more likely to settle with the specialist you shared lunch with, or the unknown you still need to locate? With a big agency comes diverse expertise under one roof, providing seamless access to broad ideas. But can you be big & still bright? Certainly, but only by breaking down silos & embracing diversity. Different experiences, points of view & interests inspire innovation.

Like the story of Goldilocks, some agencies are too big, some agencies are too small, and some agencies are just right – it depends on your taste.

Three Bears

It is a matter of taste

Another strange question – do you have enough capacity? Does a prospective customer really want an agency that’s quiet? I’ve never walked into an empty restaurant, however if it’s heaving I want a reservation – evidence suggests that the product will be great. Do you want a partner that is free, or do you want a partner that is expert? A well run agency will have the infrastructure, process & connections to scale smartly and meet the fluid needs of their customers.

I’m proud to say that we are very big and we are very busy. And our clients choose HAVAS LYNX for our  ideas, innovation & ability to exceed expectations, and we are grateful for their patronage. 

Steve Jobs, a catalyst for innovation or a poster boy for the digital revolution?

User experience; Pursuit of perfection, by David Hunt

Where does the late Steve Jobs sit amongst the greatest minds of our time? Is he simply the poster-boy for the global culture of innovation? Or is he the catalyst that inspired a generation to think differently?

iPod

iPod, where it all began?

He didn’t create the Internet, he didn’t create the MP3, he did not invent the mobile phone, but does that lessen his impact or contribution to the digital revolution? Through his pathological commitment to a customer-centric approach, he took alien and complex concepts and brought them into the main-stream. He was the perfect foil to a software engineer, able to take “black magic” and make it simply magic.

His impact is significant; he challenged conventions and improved our lives. He didn’t look at what the competition did, he looked at what they didn’t do. He saw things differently. He knew what people wanted and he fulfilled the need, in terms of product, positioning and marketing.

His products were the best. He had the vision to challenge conventions and he had the obsession to shape every detail. His solutions weren’t defined by rules or existing boundaries, but by form, and experience. Whilst the design & integration of his products were flawless, product semantics were at the heart of their success, providing complete alignment with a user’s instincts. We didn’t have to learn how to work his products, they learnt how we work. Consumers may choose an Apple product because it is pioneering, it is desirable, it is premium – I choose Apple because of the experience. It is an extension of me. Every detail considered around my needs; from the physical interaction to the  seamless interface, driven by a deep rooted desire to exceed my expectations.

He defined product classes. Apple did not produce the first smart phone, or first MP3 player, but they did bring them to the public conscious. His product positioning was flawless, (unlike some). He could bridge the gap between technology and need. He would take an idea and make it relevant. There are those that can create technology, and there are those that know how to use it, Steve Jobs was the latter and his impact all the greater.

Was Steve Jobs a marketing expert? In 1983 he didn’t think so. In hiring John Sculley from Pepsi to become CEO of Apple, he highlighted the value he placed on marketing & communications, but an unusual lack of personal belief. Those in his presence, and the wider world would disagree, citing his “reality distortion field” – an ability to make the impossible, seam possible. Despite the economic challenges of the past decade, Apple has continued to succeed. Many wrongly believe that in austere times a cut in sales & marketing drives profit, Apple have baulked this trend and proven the wisdom of communications to maintain long-term success.

It is impossible to say where the world would be without Steve Jobs and Apple. However, I would speculate that whilst the technology would exist, the benefit it brings would only be enjoyed by engineers & technicians, the wider society would be oblivious to the benefits of “black magic”.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently…they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.”
– Steve Jobs

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Jobs

– Jobs [Movie, 2013]

– Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson

– Keep It Simple: The Early Design Years of Apple by Hartmut Esslinger

Sent from my iPad

 

 

Understanding who you are, And knowing where you are going

Merger; From the Inside, by David Hunt
Part I, Initial engagement 

June 2012 was huge, after 18 months of careful planning I married my beautiful wife, running to the same timeline Creative Lynx merged with Havas. Both life changing events, both spectacularly exciting, but whilst friends & family can offer advice & council on your marriage, a merger is an altogether more isolated experience.

Having completed an MBO in March 2008, just six months after the credit crunch had started, business was going exceptionally well. We’d experienced year-on-year double-digit growth, collected 16 wins at the PM Society Digital Awards in 3 years and continued to develop a number of industry firsts. At the heart of our success was an exceptionally talented multi-disciplinary team that combined insight, with creativity and innovation. A team that would be at the forefront of our thoughts, every step of the way.

Through sustained growth & success, we saw three opportunities;

  • We were a young agency with brilliant ideas and passion, but we were a young agency that could benefit from a global partner. We needed global experience and sophistication to transform raw talent into global communication experts
  • Inside and outside of healthcare, consolidation is an increasing trend. As a boutique agency it can be seen as a threat or opportunity. We saw this as an opportunity to combine our intimate service with a global footprint
  • We’re based in Manchester, which is brilliant for creative & digital talent. However, in global communications it can be viewed as a province and whilst this perception is changing, before Havas we were being overlooked for the best global briefs

We’ve always grown our business through referrals, recommendations and repeat business. Through experience & intuition we know how to run an agency, we know how to build teams & deliver results, we know our business. But a merger is not about today, it is about tomorrow. Suitors have a passing curiosity in where you have come from, they have a fascination in where you are going. Having previously been focused on the here & now, at the outset of the process we became smarter, more considered, strategic – by simple proximity to potential global partners we were setting out our long-term ambition, designing a roadmap and creating an infrastructure to deliver sustained success.

Following our deal with Havas we have;

Our vision & ideas, originally inspired through the merger process are now becoming reality as a result of the support, infrastructure & expertise that we can now harness.

Having committed to the process & having defined our vision, we engaged with a number of networks. As a result of our success, we had already been approached by nearly all of the global communication networks –  now on our terms, in our time, the courtship could begin. I first met Donna Murphy & Doug Burcin (Global CEOs of Havas Health) in 2011, they were brilliant, the perfect combination of drive & consideration. Someone that I wanted to both work with and learn from. Alongside them was Ed Stapor, with an absolute passion for us and for Havas. Ed was driven by people & relationships, as were we.

As the journey unfolded we met a number of brilliant & respected leaders from across the major networks. Every interaction was another opportunity to learn, engage and shape our plans – they were all worthwhile. Whilst similar in their achievements & proposition, it quickly became apparent that there were significant differences in their approach. I believe that Havas made their decision based on the people & our ideas, the others focused more on numbers & forecast.

Beyond the chemistry that would ultimately shape our decision, Havas also talked more about digital, more about social, more about the future. They didn’t just want to buy the answer, they wanted to help create it. It wasn’t just about our insight, our ideas, our technology, it was about shared expertise, shared resource, a shared vision. It was about creating something unique. It was about creating a global group that would shape & define digital communications in healthcare – HAVAS LYNX.

It has been a fantastic start. We have enjoyed the honeymoon period, it is new, exciting and fun. There will always be highs & lows, it’s a relationship and we are all passionate. However by following our instinct & choosing people over profit, I know that we’ll have an ally when times are tough and an advocate when moving forward.

Part II, Agreeing the finer details

Part III, Business as usual

Part IV, A year in & the lessons I learnt