Ukraine’s Versi Bionics produces bionic prosthesis, seeks funding for production
The Ukrainian startup Versi Bionics produces a bionic prosthesis that can automatically move fingers and bend the wrist along two axes. The team is now looking for investors to provide enough funding for them to be able to test their product over the next year and start producing an alpha or beta version. AIN.Capital shares the details of the project.
How did the project arise?
Bionic prostheses are high-end artificial limbs that can partly restore one’s mobility. For example, a bionic arm device allows its holder to move fingers and take small things.
The idea was initially developed by three friends and IT specialists: Sergiy Tomuz, Borys Holovko, and Yurii Pozhar. Before Versi Bionics, they developed a smart home light project — smartphone-controlled LED strips. Now every developer has such a light system at home, but it never got to serial production.
So, in 2020, the team started working on their next project, a bionic prosthesis. To create such a product, they needed to have knowledge of electronics, programming, and medicine. Sergiy and Borys have been friends since they were kids. They both have a significant IT background. Sergiy does QA Automation, and Borys works with databases. The third element was Yurii, who studied biomedical electronics and prosthetics at the Kharkiv National University of Radio Electronics.
What does the device look like at the moment?
The team assembled the first version (MVP-1) of the prosthesis literally in Boris’ kitchen in Odesa and called it “Lego on batteries.”
The team is now working on the second MVP. With the second version, the startup’s co-founders have recently traveled to Kyiv to show their development to prosthetists. According to Sergiy, there was positive feedback:
The team develops a device with several features. Sergiy told AIN.Capital that different versions of the Versi Bionics product will cost $3,000 to $6,000, while foreign analogs would cost about 5 to 7 times more.
Another option, along with the significantly lower price, would be a mobility improvement allowing the arm device to move fingers naturally.
“Today, bionic prostheses can grip and release the hand. However, if you want to make a gesture like OK or the sign of the horns, a user must give a command in the mobile app. We want our device to move fingers, not after a smartphone command but with signals transferred from sensors on a dissected limb,” so Sergiy.
Third, the team wants to make the product wrist move along two axes: so the bearer can normally manipulate small items, for example, take a cup of coffee and drink without elevating the elbow. The wrist will be able to move automatically for 180 degrees along one axis and 60 degrees along another. The developers confirm that automatic wrist movements will be possible thanks to a microprocessor-controlled neural network. The product will also contain sensors for warm and cold surface detection.
The team found a military man, Donetsk “cyborg” Ivan Kozubenko, who defended the airport in 2014 and lost his arm there, and offered to provide him with a prosthesis for free so that he could test it and give feedback.
Now the prosthesis is being fitted to Ivan’s arm so he can use it.
Over the years of development, the team has spent more than $50,000 on the project and is now looking for $420,000. The startup needs this money to run a mini-production facility that will produce 20-25 prosthetics a month. In a year, the team hopes to have a batch of certified prosthetics that they can make available to users for alpha and beta testing. After that, the startup is considering launching in the US and European markets.