Dr Cathy Bulley (Reader in Dietetics, Nutrition and Biological Sciences), Dr Kavi Jagadamma (Lecturer in Dietetics, Nutrition and Biologicals Sciences) and Dr Derek Santos (Senior Lecturer in Dietetics, Nutrition and Biological Sciences) were awarded an Innovation Fellowship to further test Smart-Strap technology which has been developed and modelled in QMU’s Orthotic Laboratory using experiential, clinical and research expertise to alleviate the effects of Foot Drop.

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

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. 

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.) "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 they successfully pitched for a place on the full accelerator programme to support further progression.