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Doing Business In Connecticut 2017

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2017 | Doing Business in Connecticut 27 SPONSORED REPORT S tephen Hawes used to have an ultra-cool hobby, building wrist- mounted, propane-driven flame throwers in the basement of his parents' Marlborough, Conn. home. But that all changed one day, when he went to an invention conference in New York, and saw a company demon- strating artificial fingers for children. "I thought what they were do- ing was really cool,'' said Hawes, a 2017 UConn graduate who majored in mechanical engineering. "But based on what I'd done with the flame thrower, I knew I could do something better.'' Hawes developed a highly sophisti- cated, lightweight prosthesis known as the Atlas Arm, which is now in clinical trial with an amputee. "I just want to start making them and get them out there to people who need them!'' said Hawes, who spends most weekends at his new lab at UConn's Technology Incubation Program (TIP) in Farmington. Hawes can construct the Atlas Arm in a weekend, and for a cost of less than $300, compared to $20,000 to $100,000 for prostheses now on the market. The arm is controlled by an EMG (electromy- ography) sensor and a user can move the hand by squeezing muscles in the forearm. He uses a 3D printer to assem- ble the arm, using lightweight plastic, similar to the material used in Lego bricks. The prosthesis articulates like a normal hand. Hawes believes that the Atlas Arm will be especially helpful for children, who need frequent alterations to artificial limbs to accommodate their growth. Atlas Arm was one of the winners of the 2016 UConn Innovation Quest competition, which provides entrepre- neurial students with start-up funding, business skills and mentoring to help bring their ideas to market. "I was surprised that someone hadn't invented this yet,'' Hawes said. "But I guess that's what entrepreneur- ship is about—recognizing that some- thing is lacking and doing something about it!'' Stephen Hawes, a 2017 UConn graduate, has invented the Atlas Arm, a lightweight, inexpensive prosthesis that articulates like a human hand, and is perfecting it in a UConn laboratory in Farmington. Hawes believes the invention will be especially useful for children, who must replace artificial limbs frequently as they grow. PHOTO: Nathan Oldham/UConn The World at His Fingertips and instrumentation, collaboration with scientific experts, customized business planning and more, with two major locations in Farmington at UConn Health, and in Storrs. "TIP is an established program in Connecticut that is known to improve the likelihood of startup success,'' said Mostafa Analoui, Ph.D., executive director of venture development and TIP at UConn. "Instead of going to Boston or New York, these companies choose to stay in Connecticut where they can grow their ideas into profitable enterprises.'' Another vital advocate for new businesses is the Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship Law Clinic at UConn's School of Law, which trains law students in representing business clients, many of whom seek patents and trademarks. Clients include both startups and established companies. "The Clinic is essentially a law firm, but unlike a law firm, we do not charge our clients for the legal work we perform,'' said Director Linda Gebauer. A Helping Hand for Established Businesses, Too The Connecticut Small Business Development Center (CTSBDC), located within the UConn School of Business, manages several offices statewide offering assistance to businesses that need advice and support. "We are seeing a significant increase in the inquiries we are receiving for assistance from both startups as well as established businesses,'' said Emily Carter, director of the CTSBDC. "In 2014 we assisted clients in securing more than $16 million in capital, whereas that number jumped to $53.5 million in 2016.'' The CTSBDC, which is part of a nationwide program offering no-cost, confidential business advising, often employs UConn resources—from faculty experts to student web site designers—to augment its services. "I'm of the strongly-held opinion that the investments in technology and research at UConn are producing innovations that can have a wide and far-reaching effect on Connecticut and the national economy," said Kevin Bouley, a UConn alumnus, serial entrepreneur, angel investor and president and CEO of Tolland-based Nerac, a global research and advisory firm for companies developing innovative products and services. "We're developing innovative ideas in genomics, healthcare, biomedical, engineering and nursing, the list goes on and on,'' he said. "UConn is making an investment in our students, our communities and our future. I believe that is the key to rebuilding our Yankee ingenuity. Our entrepreneurial roots distinguished our state, and that is what is quite likely to make Connecticut an economic powerhouse again.''

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