Staff Services Student Enterprise

Startup receives £2.2M for soft robotic glove to help stroke recovery

06 Apr 2023

Student startup secures £2.2 million in funding to develop its soft robotic glove which aims to restore upper limb mobility in patients following a stroke.

The funding round was led by Archangels, with participation from Eos Advisory, Hanna Capital SEZC and Old College Capital, the University of Edinburgh’s venture investment.

The University of Edinburgh student startup has created the Lifeglov – a soft robotic glove which offers rehabilitation for both the closing and opening strength of the hand. It monitors key metrics related to upper limb mobility and can show improvement as the patient progresses through rehabilitation.

The Lifeglov is accompanied by a digital therapy platform which provides the patient with tailored exercises to help develop natural hand strength. For stroke survivors, the glove helps carry out rehabilitation from the home, while for occupational therapists, the glove is a tool to help manage their patients remotely and improve patient outcomes.

This new funding will allow Bioliberty to complete development of the trial product and finalise the development of its platform. The funding is also anticipated to fund the business through obtaining Food and Drug Administration approval and early commercial engagement in the US with rehabilitation clinics.

In the UK stroke strikes every five minutes. 100,000 people have strokes every year and there are 1.3 million stroke survivors in the UK. Over five million people in the UK live with arm weakness, with stroke damage accounting for one million of those people.

Bioliberty’s Lifeglov provides a solution and its use of soft robotics in rehabilitation is currently unique in the market. The initial application is in the upper limb rehabilitation market, but it is anticipated that the technology will have a broad range of clinical applications including lower limb.

The startup was co-founded in 2020 by University of Edinburgh, School of Engineering graduates Rowan Armstrong (CEO) and Ross O’Hanlon (CTO).

The co-founders were supported by Edinburgh Innovations’ student enterprise team by taking part in EI’s 2020 Startup Summer Accelerator and going on to with the ‘Impact Award’ at the 2021 Inspire Launch Grow Award.

We are so pleased to have hit such a large milestone with this investment round. When we look back on our journey as a startup, Edinburgh Innovations played such a crucial role in our early validation. Our first ever funding and support was provided by Edinburgh Innovations through their Startup Summer Accelerator and we went on to secure further funding through their Inspire Launch Grow Awards. They also supported us in securing our first government grants. We are very lucky to have such a supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem at University of Edinburgh, and this is reflected in Old College Capital’s involvement in the round.
Ross O’Hanlon, co-founder of Bioliberty
Bioliberty was one of OCC's first pre-seed investments, and we are delighted to continue to support the Company in this seed round. Founding Bioliberty during their studies at the University, Rowan and the team are developing cutting edge soft robotic technology to address a real unmet need in patients with upper limb weakness around the world. We are excited to see them progress to the next stage of their journey, and look forward to continue working with them for growth and impact.
Katherine Fox, Investment Executive at Old College Capital
Well done to the team at Bioliberty on securing this round of early investment. Edinburgh Innovations have worked with Bioliberty for many years and it’s really heartening to see one of our student businesses securing this level of investment. This new injection of money will allow them to further develop their Lifeglov product and get it to market. We are excited to see where Bioliberty goes next.
Lorna Baird, Student Enterprise Manager at Edinburgh Innovations

Bioliberty's Journey with the University

As an alumnus of the University, co-founder Rowan Armstrong was already familiar of the University's enterprise services and entrepreneurial support.

In March 2021, Bioliberty took part in The Data Driven Entrepreneurship programme (DDE), a digital transformation project providing focused support for digital/data focused entrepreneurs and businesses, they participated in the AI Accelerator programme which allowed them to network with data giants in the sector and attend sessions in marketing, branding and operations. They also received a Seed Fund which was converted into shares and integrated a PHD student into team through the Digitech PHD placement.