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STEETS module allows walking aids to stand safely


An aid in everyday life for people who are dependent on crutches. With the STEETS module, the walking aid simply remains in the open space.

An innovative idea. Plenty of stamina in four years of development and testing. Now the finished product is coming onto the market. The interdisciplinary start-up "STEETS", made up of three students from Fachhochschule Dortmund, Paderborn University and Paderborn University of Applied Sciences and Arts, is launching the final version of its support system for walking aids at OTWorld, the leading trade fair for orthopaedic and rehabilitation technology.

"Done," says Phil Janßen. He is holding a surprisingly small cardboard box in his hand. Inside: the technical solution that will make life easier for millions of people who rely on walking aids. The module with four small legs prevents crutches from falling over. They can be set down in an open space with a simple movement of the hand. "As soon as the crutch is loaded with body weight again, the system closes fully automatically thanks to the intelligent mechanism," explains Phil Janßen. European crutches can be easily retrofitted with the "STEETS" module.

Rehab clinic assisted start-up with development

Phil Janßen, Thorben Engel and Philipp Battisti

"The past few years have really been a ride," reports Phil Janßen. Until recently, he studied for a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Design at Fachhochschule Dortmund. Most recently, his cinema spot against sexism in public spaces with sports presenter Frank Buschmann caused a stir in Dortmund. His biggest project, however, is "STEETS". After witnessing how falling walking aids made everyday life difficult for his family on several occasions, he was seized by the spirit of an inventor. Together with industrial engineer and biomedical technician Thorben Engel, an old school friend, and business economist Philipp Battisti, he developed the idea for the crutch support. They completed the first prototype in 2022. Now - on May 14, 2024 - the STEETS module will be officially presented at OTWorld in Leipzig, the leading trade fair for orthopaedic and rehabilitation technology.

"Over the past few years, we have worked intensively with doctors, therapists and people who use walking aids," says STEETS development manager Thorben Engel. One important partner was the Dr. Becker Rhein-Sieg-Klinik in NRW, which specializes in rehabilitation. Head physician Prof. Dr. med. Klaus M. Peters accompanied the young start-up and praises the idea, especially with regard to fall prevention. "The carefree placement of the crutch in an open space not only helps to make everyday life easier for those affected, but also enables users to grasp the crutch safely and quickly if they lose their balance thanks to the STEETS placement aid," says Prof. Peters.

Fits on every European crutch

"The STEETS module fits on almost any crutch and can be easily installed using the mounting kit supplied," explains Philipp Battisti. The parking module is activated via a small lever underneath the handle. The crutch stands securely. "In Germany alone, around 3.5 million people rely on walking aids every year," he adds. Demand is already high even before the official product launch. This is because the team has already made a name for itself in many competitions in recent years. For example, STEETS won the iCapital Award for young founders in Dortmund and greenhouse.ruhr, the start-up competition organized by Fachhochschule Dortmund and the Economic Development Agency. Most recently, the start-up received an OWL Innovation Award from OstWestfalenLippe GmbH in April.

After four years of development and testing, the crutch stand is ready. The founders (from right), Philipp Battisti and Phil Janßen, hold the first finished STEETS boxes in their hands. Pascal Pöhler (l.), authorized signatory of the packaging company Josef Schulte GmbH, hands them over. The start-up uses the most sustainable materials possible for both production and packaging.

STEETS shows how important interdisciplinary collaboration is to get something new off the ground.

Erdme Brüning, start-up mentor at Fachhochschule Dortmund

The start-up service at Fachhochschule Dortmund supported the start-up with market and patent research, among other things. "STEETS shows how important interdisciplinary collaboration is to get something new off the ground," says Erdme Brüning, start-up mentor at the UAS. Each of the three founders brings important specialist knowledge to the start-up in order to make it a success. "Fachhochschule Dortmund now has a contact point, SQuArE on Lindemannstraße(Opens in a new tab) , to support potential founders in developing their ideas - with technical equipment and advice," adds Erdme Brüning. These facilities are also used for networking and interdisciplinary exchange. Students and experts from different disciplines come together here. The FabLab on the Sonnenstraße campus(Opens in a new tab)  also offers students, employees and guests of Fachhochschule Dortmund support in implementing their own ideas and projects.

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