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A helping hand

The idea is so obvious that you would think the product already existed on the welfare technology market. The fact is, however, that the creative minds at Als-based Manuxa launched a patented world sensation in 2014.

The helping hand – or Manuxa – is a most welcome assistive device for people with arthritis in their hands, and the invention was supported by Borean Innovation.

Hans Jørgen Pedersen, CEO of Manuxa

You obviously create a company to make money, but it is a huge incentive for us  that our product actually helps people in their everyday life

It all began at a 2007 seminar on user-driven innovation, held at Sønderborg Castle. Here, chronically ill patients, their health care providers and patient associations met a forum of technologists and adressed their wishes for better assistive devices. There are 35.000 arthritic sufferers in Denmark, of which 80 percent are women.

- I noticed that arthritic sufferers wanted a strong electronic hand to help out with heavy lifting in for example the kitchen, the grocery store or at the gas station”, says engineer Hans Jørgen Pedersen, on of two Manuxa CEOs.

- I believed that with the mechatronics competences we have, something functional could be invented. Jesper Hansen and I had previously been colleagues at Danfoss, and started to seriously work on the challenge in the fall of 2009.

Jesper Hansen is an electronics technician and functions as CEO on par with his colleague. 

Great chemistry 

Solid groundwork by the inventors and non-existent similar products stirred Borean’s interest. The first investment from the innovation incubator was spent on producing an aluminum model with specific abilities: Opening jam jars, handling a bread knife and opening a foil-wrapped package. Three typical tasks that are problematic for arthritis sufferers. Initially, the hand was powered by electricity from the grid. In its current shape the gripper is battery-driven and integrated in a washable orthosis; an individually adjustable wrist bandage.

The helping hand has become popular with the test subjects who may now perform a number of different household- and garden tasks – for instance lifting, twisting and pouring. The technology is familiar: The Manuxa is powered by the same type of charger that cellphones use. 

- Users who have tested Manuxa is were satisfied with it and wants to take it home with them, says Hans Jørgen Pedersen with a smile.

New project funding in 2015

Manuxa has been awarded a 3,5 million DKK project co-financing sum from the Market Development Fund.  For this round of applications, the fund’s board were able to award a total of 50 million DKK, and Manuxas project was appraised as on of the very best. The project, which has a 10,9 million DKK total budget, is designed to test and adjust the Manuxa so that both persons with other hand disorders as well as rheumatic arthritis sufferers may benefit from the device.

Making everyday life easier

The future seems bright for Manuxa.

- We are getting many great reviews from our test persons who are suddenly once again able to stir a pot, fuel the car or prune a tree. We have filmed these reactions and plan to show them to municipal visitation officers, says Jesper Hansen.

- You obviously create a company to make money, but it is a huge incentive for us that our product actually helps people in their everyday life!

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