A graduate of Memphis accelerator ZeroTo510 demonstrated his innovative medical device to President Obama at the first-ever White House Maker Faire on June 18.
Partha Unnava, CEO of Better Walk, part of the 2013 ZeroTo510 Medical Device Accelerator cohort, demonstrated the company’s re-imagined and re-designed crutch for the President as one of seven selected exhibitors at the event.
Through an online application process, Better Walk was selected to exhibit at the White House’s Maker Faire as one of three university teams. Unnava, a student at Georgia Tech, represented the university alongside students from MIT and Stanford.
According to Unnava, President Obama tried the crutch, asked how it worked, and congratulated the company on their progress to date. Unnava was also selected to present a letter to President Obama on behalf of 150 universities encouraging the President to support the maker movement on university campuses. The letter was created using a 3D printer in both metal and plastic.
Better Walk is supported by Memphis investors Innova, a pre-seed, seed and early-stage investor focused on starting and funding high-growth companies in the healthcare, technology and healthcare technology fields across the state of Tennessee, and MB Venture Partners, a Memphis-based venture capital firm that provides equity capital and strategic direction to life sciences startups. Better Walk recently received six letters of intent from orthopedic clinics for purchasing the crutch, and the company is raising funds to manufacture the product to meet this demand.
In conjunction with the White House event, the City of Memphis joined 90 cities from around the country in marking the first-ever White House Mayors Maker Challenge. Chief Administrative Officer George Little and several local makers and entrepreneurs, including Bioworks President and Executive Director Steve Bares, PhD, and ZeroTo510 graduate Shawn Flynn, CEO of Restore Medical Solutions, spotlighted the City’s burgeoning maker movement and announced a maker roundtable, to be held this fall.
The roundtable will convene local, state, and federal officials, as well as private sector and non-profit stakeholders, for a focused discussion of the City’s maker and entrepreneurial ecosystem, and to explore partnerships and key policies that can continue to strengthen it.
The maker movement is gaining national recognition for its contributions to local manufacturing, education, economic growth, and entrepreneurship. While emphasizing diversity among makers, who range from those who tinker, build, and craft as hobbyists to thriving entrepreneurs, Chief Little emphasized their contributions to building an innovation economy in Memphis.