See more of the story

Abilitech Medical Inc., the Minneapolis medical-device startup that won the Minnesota Cup last year, on Tuesday said it launched Abilitech Assist, a cornerstone product in its plans for wearable tech that helps people with limited movement in their arms.

“This has been my dream for over four years,” Angie Zavoral Conley, the company’s founder and chief executive, said in an interview.

“Our device allows the arm and shoulder to move effortlessly, much like in a swimming pool,” she said. “We work with [patients], clinicians and caregivers. This includes input from an engineer on our team who lives with a spinal cord injury.”

The Assist supports the shoulder and elbow, and software customizes a “spring tension” to lift light objects such as a fork, phone or water bottle.

The Food and Drug Administration classified the Assist as a wearable product, which allowed Abilitech to commercialize it at the same time it continues clinical trials at the University of Minnesota and Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. Other collaborates include HealthPartners and Allina Health’s Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute.”

“My dream is to be able to use my arm again, make things easier for my wife and go back to the profession I love,” Dr. Hanry Samir, a Texas cardiac anesthesiologist and critical care physician who consults with Abilitech, said in a statement of support.

Abilitech said more than 1 million people in the United States rely on others to complete simple tasks because of neuromuscular disorders caused by muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury and other conditions.

Abilitech, which is working with insurers and Medicare, also is making an economic pitch. Conley said the price of the device will vary depending upon insurance coverage. The Assist should help its customers decrease their reliance on caregivers, she noted.

Conley said that Abilitech “looks forward to raising” an additional $18 million in the first half of 2021 to fund growth and commercialization and additional research.

Abilitech has raised $12.3 million in capital. Last month, it closed on the last $3.6 million of its $10 million inaugural round of venture capital. Its investors included the Minnesota-based Sofia Fund, which is managed by women and invests exclusively in companies led by women.

Neal St. Anthony • 612-673-7144