I first met Malav in February 2015 while attending the "Work in Progress" show of the Innovation Design Engineering (IDE) class, a 2-year Masters of Science jointly run by Imperial College and the Royal College of Arts. I knew that our brief chat around Life Cradle, his research project at the time (a foldable and affordable baby incubator aimed at reducing infant mortality in remote regions), would have been followed by many more.
In the coming year we met several times, bouncing thoughts on ‘social-for-good’ innovation and the potential of implementing Experimental Design Process (the same process that lies at the core of several IDE-born ventures such as Gravity Sketch and Bare Conductive) to develop socially driven solutions.
Come summer 2016, he presented to me a novel research project: a prosthetic socket for amputees. A socket, for those who are new to the field, like I was at the time, is the most critical component of prosthesis for a leg amputee. The cover slide of the presentation read ‘Creoto’, and all I understood at the time is that this socket was 'staying on' through a robotic system that gave a custom fit (rather than relying on the strapping and clips of the normal custom made sockets). Further, the grip could be regulated via a Creoto mobile app and that sensors embedded within the socket could collect vital data to be shared real-time with health professionals. All very smart! But why all this?
Sector: Healthcare, Mobility
Tech: Robotics, Big Data
Founders: Malav Sanghavi, Dr. Thomas Clynes
Investors: Innovate RCA
I spent a few months researching the potential of Creoto, both from a technological perspective and from a commercial one.
I learnt that:
230,000 amputations are carried out yearly in the US and the UK alone.
Sockets are currently made to order by hand, a timely and expensive process.
A poorly fitting socket can lead to pain and sores, compromise the mobility of the user, and significantly impact a users quality of life.
A user required 6-7 socket changes in the first two years, costing on average £3,000 each time, due to customary changes in the shape and volume of the stump(this is remaining part of an amputated limb).
Diabetes Type 2 can result in an amputation of the leg, over 7,000 a year in the UK alone and require intense follow up programs.
and that Type 2 is not going away and in fact is on the rise in "new" economies such as Brazil, Mexico, the Emirates, India and China.
And the eureka moment hit me: Creoto could solve all of the above issues and I wanted to help.
Creoto Technologies founders: Dr. Thomas Clynes (left) and Malav Sanghavi (right)
By summer 2017 Creoto was making great progress, having secured funding from Innovation RCA and having onboarded Tom, a surgical Doctor undertaking an MBA, to take on the role of COO and work with Malav to set-up a commercially viable plan and product roadmap. Creoto has since transitioned into a full-fledge business: patents are pending and prototypes have been delivered and are currently being tested by a few of our supporters, including Invictus Racing driver Paul Vice MC and bilateral amputee Murray Hambro. We have been receiving insightful feedback and are already working on the second iteration of the prototype. The third one will be our market-ready one.
Malav has been nominated by Forbes as a "30 Under 30" to watch, has been invited to join the United Nations Vatican Youth Symposium and continues spreading his love for social design, including at TEDx.
TEDx Talks | Design with a Social Conscience | Malav Sanghavi (Youtube)
Earlier this year we onboarded Creoto, joining our portfolio of ventures focused on developing mobility and healthcare solutions. We are looking forward to having a role in improving the daily life of amputees. Aside of the immediate application of the technology, with Malav and Tom we are also assessing the application of the same technology to other healthcare and non-health related verticals, and my role is also that of spearheading conversations with corporates and investors that understand the potential of this tech asset.
At Wilbe we strive to support 1) technical talent 2) with business ideas that can 'solve' critical problems: Creoto reflects just that. I am very proud of this onboarding and the journey that led to it. Our role is that of interim finance, legal, public relations and talent scouting partners – in practice, we help take care of all the legwork that would otherwise distract the founders from the development and launch of the product.
I look forward to keeping you all in the loop as we progress with our mission. Please do reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org if you think you can be of help!