Student Experience Grants

Medical start-up supports Covid-19 response

From student start-up to critical personal protective equipment (PPE) supplier during a global pandemic, Augment Bionics has had an inspiring journey since receiving its Student Experience Grant last year.

When the 3D printing community began to respond to the urgent demand for personal protection equipment for healthcare workers looking after people during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Augment Bionics team knew it had a duty to get involved.

Within a week, the team had launched a crowdfunder to raise funds for materials and distribution, sourced access to additional 3D printers, started the manufacturing process and distributed their first batch of protective face shields to a clinic in Wales.

Augment Bionics team with printed mask
Augment Bionics team with printed mask

“Our capacity is predicted to be around 50 face shields a day. It’s pretty crazy to see how many requests that are coming in and it’s quite scary to see the state of almost desperation that the healthcare system is reaching. I think we’re all taken aback,” said Elisabeth Feldstein (MChem 2019) Augment Bionics’ co-founder and Finance Director.  

These are unprecedented times for everyone, so I think being able to do our part – however small it may be – and the gratitude from the healthcare workers provide a sense of comfort amidst everything that is going on.

Elisabeth Feldstein (MChem 2019)Augment Bionics’ co-founder and Finance Director

While this challenge has been an unexpected diversion for Augment Bionics, using 3D printing for social good is familiar territory for the student-founded start-up.

Augment Bionics started when two former University of Edinburgh engineering students identified a gap in the market for affordable and functional prosthetic limbs using 3D printing. When they graduated in 2018, they passed their project to the founding team for Augment Bionics, who were motivated to make their vision to improve lives a reality.

Augment Bionics printers and mask
Augment Bionics printers and mask

“Some of the more bionic functional arms cost upwards of £8,000 and obviously that’s not a price that’s accessible to a lot of people,” explains Elisabeth. “We want to develop a product that has the same functionality but at a much lower cost. And that’s really the vision we all believe in at Augment - equal access to healthcare and medical devices regardless of economic background.”

With support from the University’s commercialisation office Edinburgh Innovations, Augment Bionics is now a viable commercial business that has turned an idea into a prototype for a high-functioning but accessible prosthetic device.

I still find it quite shocking that I’m a co-founder of a company,” says Elisabeth. “It's pretty crazy at such a young age and a lot of us, whether we’re alumni or current students, are balancing full-time jobs or studies alongside Augment but it’s a really rewarding experience.

Elisabeth Feldstein (MChem 2019)Augment Bionics’ co-founder and Finance Director

Related links

Augment Bionics (external link)

Edinburgh Innovations