De Oro Devices, a Cal Poly student-run company, has raised $150,000 since participating in the 2018 SLO HotHouse Accelerator Program to get their medical device on the market by 2020.
The device, called Gaitway, helps Parkinson’s disease patients with a common symptom called freezing of gait. According to Parkinson’s Foundation, freezing of gait causes patients to feel like they cannot walk or move due to a lack of connection between the body and the brain.
De Oro Devices Chief Executive Officer Sidney Collin, a biomedical engineering senior, began working on Gaitway as a project for the Cal Poly Quality of Life Plus club. The goal was to help a local veteran with Parkinson’s disease find a solution for freezing of gait.
“The reason that it turned into a company was because I realized there were so many more people that needed this device,” Collin said.
Collin and the De Oro team — business administration senior Adam Schwartz and co-founder and biochemistry senior William Thompson — worked to find a way to reestablish the connection between the body and brain, allowing patients to walk again.
“We took the most effective audio and visual cues and combined [them] into one single device that can attach onto any cane or a walker,” Collin said.
De Oro Devices was chosen by Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship as one of eight startup companies to participate in the HotHouse Accelerator Program that took place over the summer.
Each company received $10,000 in funding, access to mentors and office space at the HotHouse located in downtown San Luis Obispo.
De Oro Devices received funding from four investors on Demo Day, the final day of the Accelerator program.
The company continues to fundraise and develop its product. Its next step is moving the prototype out to local patients for feedback. Gaitway is the first device in a line of products to help improve quality of life.
“There are so many people who are having their independence taken away from them because they don’t have a way to be able to walk by themselves,” Collin said. “I just realized no one else is going to do this, so I will.”