Aergo is one of 10 finalists for out Inventor Prize, with their product Aergo Postural Support. Here, their Founder and CEO, Hsin-Hua (Sheana) Yu tells us more about why their product is so important and their experience of the Inventor Prize so far
What is the inspiration for your product, and how do you think it will help people across the UK?
Having suffered with scoliosis throughout my life, I wanted to find a better solution to managing posture for children with physical conditions. Through working with a Special Educational Needs School, I was inspired to create a smarter postural support to help children at the school to better interact with their environment.
Aergo is a responsive postural support system designed for wheelchair users. It uses a network of pressure-sensitive air cells to gently hug users into a more comfortable position as they move.
Proper seating posture is vital to digestion, breathing and communication, but the ability to sit comfortably is a daily struggle for over 1 million wheelchair users in the UK. Finding the right postural support for young wheelchair users is especially challenging as their bodies change so quickly. Improper seating exacerbates spinal deformities, which may lead to pressure sores that can devastate lives and costs the NHS over £3 billion a year.
Aergo’s remote-controlled system promotes independence for a range of physical conditions and is the first device of its kind to automatically adjust as the user moves. The expandable frame and lateral pads also accommodate 3 years of growth, helping Aergo provide longer-lasting comfort than other custom-made supports or fixed devices.
Why did you apply for the Inventor Prize?
Aergo was founded with a mission to empower users with products that are accessible to all. The Inventor Prize, with its strong focus on improving people’s lives, is an extremely valuable platform to grow Aergo into a sustainable company that positively impacts the lives of people with disabilities.
The Inventor Prize provides an excellent opportunity to meet and expand my network in relevant industries such as social enterprise, medical technology and manufacturing. I believe that the lessons from working with the finalists, Nesta and Barclays Eagle Lab will help shape our R&D operations and commercialisation strategy, ensure that the company is well-supported throughout the product life-cycle, and will help us remain aware of the potential business challenges going forward.
What are you most looking forward/finding most useful about the Inventor Prize?
We plan to continue refining Aergo’s postural support system through the support of Barclays Eagle Lab, and build BETA models for our pilot study. This study will help develop and improve the technology in our seating system and provide valuable insights for full-scale clinical trials in the future.
With Nesta's wealth of knowledge in the social impact sector, we aim to shape our social business model through the support and mentorship provided. Our vision is to empower people with disabilities by providing innovative assistive technologies to enable better physical and social participation.
We believe that people with disabilities deserve the same access to opportunities as everyone else, and we are excited to work with the Inventor Prize network to push this mission forward.
Hsin-Hua (Sheana) Yu, Founder and CEO, Aergo