TayCo Brace, LLC, a South Bend-based startup business was crowned winner of the 2018 1st Source Commercialization Award at a ceremony April 24 in South Bend. The company makes an external ankle brace that was produced initially to stabilize ankle injuries sustained on the football field.
The product was the brainchild of Mike Bean, an associate athletic trainer at the University of Notre Dame. Bean has worked with the football team since 1996 and supervises the student-athletic trainer program. He has been on the Sports Medicine staff at the University since 1991.
Four other companies also competed for the award, which includes a $20,000 prize for the winner. Those other businesses were working on things such as cures for cancer, products for well-being, solving foot and skin sores for diabetics, and the development of a hybrid silk worm.
The TayCo Brace is a rigid brace that fits outside of the shoe, providing stability, comfort and performance for those battling ankle injuries. The brace seeks to replace traditional products like bulky ankle braces, walking boots, casts, and ankle and foot orthoses (AFO). Dr. Fred Ferlic, a long-time local orthopedic surgeon, suggests this product could replace 95% of those devices.
Since its launch, doctors have also found the brace to be a good solution for things beyond the football field like osteoporosis, arthritis, tendinitis and other foot and ankle ailments.
Bean’s product launch is part of the University of Notre Dame’s effort to commercialize technology coming from the activity of students, faculty, staff and the community. Notre Dame’s IDEA Center works on nurturing and facilitating the movements of those ideas to commercial applications.
The IDEA Center helps entrepreneurs by providing expertise on things like idea development, commercialization, business formation, prototyping and entrepreneurial education. This year, 16 student groups and six faculty groups have advanced their ideas to commercialization. Another four faculty projects will soon follow.
Those new companies complement 76 others that were launched in 2017, and 169 that launched between 2010-2016.
The 1st Source Commercialization Award was established in 2008 with a $1 million gift from 1st Source Bank. Each spring, the award is presented to a faculty member from the University of Notre Dame or the Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend who have successfully transitioned their technology from the lab to the marketplace.
The Commercialization Dinner also celebrated the awarding of U.S. patents and new discoveries by faculty and students.
In 2017, 31 inventors were awarded 41 patents. In addition, 117 inventors were recognized for their 150 invention disclosures. Finally, 14 inventors were recognized for having their inventions licensed and three groups of inventors were licensed for having their inventions licensed to startups.
Event attendees also had an opportunity to hear a keynote speech from Dan Peate, the founder and general partner of Peate Ventures. Peate, an alum and former philosophy major at Notre Dame, also is the benefactor behind the Peate Family Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University.
Peate commented, “The University and the South Bend area are poised for an innovation revolution” and praised the University and the community for their efforts to drive innovation in the region.