6 more startups share fund for CMU grads-Open Field Entrepreneurs Fund - Carnegie Mellon University

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

6 more startups share fund for CMU grads

A back posture training device Kelly Collier developed as a senior at Carnegie Mellon University is stitched together by local seamstresses.

But with a $50,000 grant from a program that helps young entrepreneurs, Collier envisions setting up a manufacturing process and marketing the RecoveryAid device that looks something like an ordinary back brace, but isn't.

Unlike a brace, “This isn't restrictive. It allows you to move how you wish to move, and by tactile, tangible cues you learn the right and wrong things to do,” said Collier, a 2011 graduate who studied biomedical engineering and materials science.

Her company, ActivAided Orthotics Inc. of the North Side, was among six startups to be awarded a share of $300,000 from the Open Field Entrepreneurs Fund, the university said.

Jonathan Kaplan, an alumnus who created the Flip Video Camera, and his wife, Marci Glazer, started the fund in 2011 to provide early-stage money for CMU alumni who graduated in the past five years. Since June, 16 startups have been awarded Open Field matching grants.

The current round of recipients, in addition to Collier's company, includes four local companies and one from California.

Collier's back posture product got its start through a senior class project.

The half-dozen students in her randomly assembled research group found they all suffered from back pain, she said, which was puzzling because they all were young and fit.

Collier was a varsity swimmer at CMU and was undergoing physical therapy at the time the project was getting started.

She asked her therapists and athletic trainers about back doctors in Pittsburgh, and the team ended up working with Dr. Gary Chimes, a UPMC physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist who has become ActivAided's chief medical adviser.

Collier's company has three full-time employees, including herself, and about 100 customers so far, and she wants to develop more products to relieve back pain and other conditions...Read more»

By: Kim Leonard