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Innovation at Work

Conversation with Kevin Englehart, Associate Director - Institute of Biomedical Engineering at UNB. (3 minutes, 18 seconds)

Click here for a full transcript

A high definition version of this video is available on YouTube

To learn more about the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at UNB, read: A new kind of helping hand.


Transcript: Institute of Biomedical Engineering at UNB

We’re rather unique. We are actually both a clinic and research facility. Both clinical and research professionals work under the same roof with the idea of improving prosthetics.
I’m Kevin Englehart, I’m the Associate Director of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at UNB.

We’ve been doing research in artificial upper limbs for about 40 years. One of our projects is termed the “UNB hand project”.  One of the important aspects is to produce an artificial hand that’s not only the most functional hand for amputees but also something that’s affordable because it’s important that insurance companies will recognize that this is going to create a great benefit for them and it is something that will be accessible to as many people as possible.

ACOA funding has been instrumental in allowing us to keep a world class team together. It’s sometimes difficult to keep very skilled people and allow them to focus on leading-edge innovation. In our case, we’ve been able to keep a team of world class engineers and clinical professionals together and focused on a specific project – to improve the lives of amputees.

Decades of research, basic research, by NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) has allowed us to remain leaders in the field. That’s why this is really timely opportunities for us because all of this fundamental research now can be channelled into a commercial endeavour.

Some of the challenges of commercializing technology in our field pertain to the economies of scale of the types of products that we might produce. There are many amputees, but not enough to make a self-sustaining industry out of it so government support is very important for us to be able to do this kind of research and then bring a product to the point where it’s commercializable for a company. 

The future is very exciting because not only will we have these devices to be available to others but also we’re working on new ways of tapping into the nervous system so that the man and machine interface will progress and these devices will become much, much more powerful and dextrous for amputees in the future.

Additional videos of innovative Atlantic companies are available on the Innovation at Work page