A CASE OF SUCCESSFUL TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER: IUVO, A SPIN OFF BY SANT’ANNA SCHOOL DEVELOPS ROBOTIC EXOSKELETONS IN COOPERATION WITH COMAU AND ÖSSUR

Comau, as part of the FCA group, is committed to delivering advanced industrial automation solutions and Össur, as a global leader in non-invasive orthopedics, have announced today the acquisition of IUVO.

IUVO, the spin off company established in 2015 by Sant’Anna School Biorobotics Institute researchers to boost CYBERLEG ICT FP7 research on wearable robotic exoskeletons by improving functionalities and performance in gait rehabilitation, human locomotion and stability, has been backed by venture capital financing.

Specifically, innovative, safe and light wearable robotic exoskeletons will provide novel complex robotics systems that will have a large impact on human locomotion assistance. Robotic exoskeletons will improve the quality of life of people with mobility impairments (as a result of illness or physical injury) and augment the physical abilities of workers to enhance their performances in industrial work.

The partnership will focus on wearable robotic devices that can effectively interact with humans. As a worldwide leader in advanced automation solutions, Comau will work in close contact with Össur and IUVO towards more open and easy to use technologies including micro-manufacturing applications for bio-medical devices.

At the Comau HUMANufacturing Innovation Center in Pontedera (Pisa), a group of engineers and researches of IUVO will increase the use of advanced robotics to develop and commercialize wearable technologies. HUMANufacturing is Comau’s path towards industrial automation where new-generation robots collaborate with humans rather than replace them.

“This joint venture represents a key step toward the creation of wearable robotic exoskeletons that can enhance human mobility and quality of life,” said Mauro Fenzi, CEO of Comau. “By uniting the know-how and enabling technologies of the various partners, we are in a unique position to extend the use of robotics beyond manufacturing and toward a truly progressive global reality. I believe the differentiating factor of a project like IUVO is the combination of Comau’s automation skills and Össur’s extensive experience in bionics and bracing to enable the production of products, such as the exoskeletons, and to be able to demonstrate the benefits of robotics”.

Dr. Thorvaldur Ingvarsson, Executive Vice President of R&D at Össur, added, “The combination of world-class talent, new ideas, advanced robotics and biomedical expertise bodes well for this new venture. I am convinced that the development of intelligent and adaptive wearable technologies will help shape a better future.”

“The complementary nature of cutting-edge research in science and technology allows us to create unique products that can enhance the way people move and perform,” explained Prof. Nicola Vitiello, Ph.D., leader of the Wearable Robotics Laboratory of The BioRobotics Institute and founding partner of IUVO. “Furthermore, these devices represent a long-term, sustainable answer to help increase the level of independence of those in need and, more generally, foster innovative life styles that promote our wellbeing.”

Prof. Maria Chiara Carrozza, Ph.D., former rector of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna and founding partner of IUVO, underscored the ambition and importance of the IUVO initiative. “IUVO is not just another spin-off company; when we founded it we had the ambition to contribute to revolutionize the society by fostering a large adoption of service robotic technologies: indeed, we are at the start of a new industrial revolution that will be enabled by the advancement of robotics and artificial intelligence technology; in this frame, IUVO has the ambition –thanks to the strategic alliance with two large industries- to pose a building block.”

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