Knee Brace Startup to Use $600K for Research Projects With Local Universities

Article first featured in Biz Journals. Click here for the original article.

Charlottesville tech startup Icarus Medical Innovations is using a $600,000 grant from Virginia Catalyst to help advance research into the effectiveness of its flagship product.

Dave Johnson founded Icarus Medical in 2019 after years of working on designs for a knee brace for his own use. The startup launched its flagship product, The Ascender, in late 2020. The knee brace is designed to be a light-weight, external muscle tendon system that takes up to 40 pounds of body weight off the knee, allowing for greater mobility and significantly reducing pain. 

Icarus takes 3D scans of a person’s knee, making the brace fully custom to each individual. The brace is then made using a combination of design automation and rapid 3D-printing. Johnson said the Icarus team is working with researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University and The University of Virginia on the design automation piece to help scale the manufacturing process.

“The grant is meant to facilitate research among biotech companies and Virginia universities,” he said. “This is helping us get the data we need to prove our device works and that it’s helpful and much more advanced than what’s currently on the market.”

Johnson added, “With VCU we’ve been able to demonstrate some power and torque data that just hasn’t been seen before, and with UVA we’ve been able to help automate the process of designing these braces.”

Prior to the grant, the startup raised $1 million, including $900,000 in equity funding and a $100,000 Commonwealth Commercialization Fund grant. Icarus is planning to raise its Series A this year, a move Chief Operating Officer Evan Eckersley said will help the startup in its continued growth.

“We’ve innovated in every area of the company; it goes beyond the product,” he said. “We’re taking some calculated risks in how we’ve grown the company, and I think they’ve paid off.”

Though he was tight-lipped about specifics, Johnson said the startup plans to introduce new products in 2022.

“We developed a new class of technology that’s translatable to several devices … It’s tailoring the device to people’s needs,” he said. “We are expecting to bring more products to the market this year that utilize the same type of technology.”

Get Started Today

Most braces are covered by insurance and the average cost is under $200!

Icarus knee brace blue
First Name(Required)
Last Name(Required)
I would like an Icarus rep to contact me with more information.
Veteran who goes to the VA