Novartis Innovation Prize:
Assistive Tech for Multiple Sclerosis
$250,000 for innovators*See Winners
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disorder of the central nervous system that disrupts the normal functioning of the brain, optic nerves and spinal cord through inflammation and tissue loss.
Loss of mobility is among the most disabling effects of MS, adversely affecting independence, employment and quality of life.1
The Novartis Innovation Prize: Assistive Tech for Multiple Sclerosis is intended to address this issue and showcase pioneering solutions at SXSW.
1. Jeffrey Dunn (2010) Impact of mobility impairment on the burden of caregiving in individuals with multiple sclerosis, Expert Review of Pharmacoeconomics & Outcomes Research, 10:4, 433-440, DOI: 10.1586/erp.10.34
In light of the extraordinary cancellation of SXSW, the announcement of the Novartis Innovation Prize: Assistive Tech for Multiple Sclerosis winners took place virtually.
See winners below
Novartis is proud to work with a wide variety of experts including accessibility leaders, representatives from the MS patient community, investors and consumer technology professionals within the mobility and healthcare space to bring this prize to life.
Advocate and Actor
Head of Accessibility, Airbnb
Chief Advocacy, Services, and Research Officer, National MS Society
This prize awards $250,000 to the first-place winner and $50,000 to the second-place winner.
Who should apply:
- Students & Academics
- Disability Experts & Patient Advocacy Groups
- Design Experts
- And anyone interested in making life better for those living with disabilities
Winners announced on June 25th, 2020
See below for more detail on the winners and runners up.
Partner, Seed & Venture Investing, Sequoia Capital
Chief Advocacy, Services, and Research Officer, National MS Society
Head of Accessibility, Airbnb
With Expert Input From
Head of Digital, Shift.MS
Patient and Advocate
Advocate and Actor
MS Advocate and Founder of MyCounterpane
Winner – $250,000 award
AccessNow is a mobile app and website that focuses on sharing information about the accessibility status of places around the world. Designed to empower people with disabilities, the platform crowdsources reviews on businesses with features like accessible parking and washrooms, elevators, ramps, scent-free and quiet spaces, and much more.
Runner Up – $50,000 award
Parrots is a socially assistive robot that empowers people with mobility and communication challenges with the ability to control, communicate and connect with the world. Parrots is a plug-and-play intelligent device, controlled by all kinds of abilities switches such as eye-tracking, with an inclusive user-friendly app. Parrots is designed to provide users with safe navigation, 360 computer vision, AI/ML smart communication with intuitive prediction and smart home connectivity.
MUVE, or My Universal Vision for Everyone, is a universally designed Ride Share/Ride Hail and community building software platform for people of all abilities. It tackles accessible transportation by aggregating and coordinating specialized vehicles and drivers to efficiently support a wide range of user and community stakeholder needs. MUVE helps to remove barriers by providing efficient transportation services while also increasing community engagement through curated local events and crowd sourced information on the built environment for all to use and share. Together, we are stronger!
FFORA is one of the first lifestyle brands to offer an array of stylish accessories that interact effortlessly with mobility devices, such as wheelchairs, walkers, crutches and canes, and are equally desired by able-bodied people.
Munevo has developed a head control system for people who cannot conventionally control an electric wheelchair. In contrast to established, mostly mechanical controls, Munevo Drive is the first to detect head movements with the help of a Smartglass. The user can calibrate the system themselves, which allows Munevo Drive to be precisely tailored to different capabilities. The adapter developed by Munevo is a plug-and-play solution and can be connected to all current models of electric wheelchairs.
Wheel the World
Wheel the World is a web platform where users can find and book accessible travel products, such as hotels, tours or packages, with the accessibility characteristics the user requires. Users’ profiles detail their accessibility needs, search for destinations and look for travel products with all their specific accessibility information.
Lise Pape & Nuala Burke
Path Feel is a voice-activated, discreet and smart insole innovated to return mobility to people with MS. Path Feel provides specifically selected frequencies to the soles of the feet, allowing the user to ‘feel’ the ground again. Through a connected app, a multitude of inbuilt sensors and gait algorithms powered by machine learning allow Path Feel to learn how you walk through AI algorithms and provide personalised care and education for a person with MS and their chosen support network. Path Feel is designed for people with MS who have a reduced ability to engage in the purposeful and meaningful activities they hope to.
Isabel Van De Keere
Immersive Rehab's Neurorehab Platform provides a personalized, engaging and clinically validated solution to the current limitations of neurorehabilitation, particularly for people with significant upper limb mobility limitations as a result of MS, stroke spinal injury and ALS. By combining physical and cognitive rehab, it is possible to obtain important gains in mobility and function.
Scewo Bro is a mobility device with two large wheels on the side on which it balances. In this balancing mode, one can drive over small obstacles with agility. When approaching a stair, two rubber tracks underneath are retracted. The seat of the chair is kept level all the time. The transitions on and off the stairs are completely automated.
Hsin Hua Yu
Posture is vital to healthy respiration, digestion and upper motor function to perform daily activities. For people living with MS, maintaining an optimal sitting position can become a daily challenge due to muscle weakness, fatigue and pain. To address this, the Aergo seating system provides automated postural management using a network of pressure sensitive air cells. As the user becomes fatigued and loses alignment, the air cells proactively hug them into a healthy sitting position. By actively managing posture, Aergo can optimise mobility and improve comfort for people living with MS.
Applications are open worldwide to anyone with an idea to make everyday life better for those living with disabling conditions, with a specific focus on Multiple Sclerosis. Novartis is particularly interested in applications from innovators, designers, academic institutions, and the broader disability and patient communities. For more information go to www.wired.com/msinnovationprize.
Applications can be submitted through the application site, accessible at www.wired.com/msinnovationprize. Applications are currently open and will be accepted until January 17, 2020 at 17.00 ET. Further application requirements, judging criteria, and terms and conditions can be found on the application site, www.wired.com/msinnovationprize.
Applications are currently open and will be accepted until January 17, 2020 at 17.00 ET. For more information go to www.wired.com/msinnovationprize.
The first-place winner will receive a prize of $250,000 and the second-place winner will receive $50,000. Those who apply to the prize, as well as winners, are subject to the Terms & Conditions listed on the application site.
Winners will be announced at an event in Austin, Texas during SXSW, March 2020. Further details to be announced.
The prize judges will include a wide variety of experts, including accessibility leaders, representatives from the MS patient community, investors, and consumer technology experts within the mobility and healthcare space.
The applications will be reviewed first by their compliance with the terms and conditions and the appropriate completion of the application. They will then be scored based on the judging criteria listed on the application site, by a wide variety of experts, including accessibility leaders, representatives from the MS patient community, investors, and consumer technology experts within the mobility and healthcare space.
Novartis has a continued commitment to ethical business conduct and complies with all laws and regulations applicable to its activities, including anti-bribery legislation. In order to honor these commitments and to prevent any possible appearance or actual undue influence, Novartis decided that submissions from HCPs will not be considered.
PAGs can apply for this prize, as long as they are not qualified as HCOs according to the definition in the Terms & Conditions. PAGs are not eligible to apply if they are in a position to purchase, recommend, refer, or arrange for the purchase, sale, or formulary placement of Novartis products.
Multiple Sclerosis is a condition that affects the central nervous system. It involves an abnormal response of the body’s own immune system. MS gradually destroys the myelin, which is the protective covering of the nerve fibers. Progressive nerve damage can then lead to permanent damage. The course of MS and the symptoms vary from person to person. MS is one of the most common neurological disorders. There are approximately 2.3 million people with MS worldwide. The cause of MS is unknown and there is no cure.
There are four documented types of MS:
- Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS) is the first episode of neurological symptoms experienced by a person, lasting at least 24 hours. The person may experience a single sign or symptom, or more than one at the same time. Not everyone who experiences CIS goes on to develop MS, but CIS can be an indicator for it.
- Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS) is the most common form of MS, with 85% of people with MS being initially diagnosed with RRMS. People experience attacks or exacerbations of symptoms (‘relapses’), which then fade or disappear (‘remission’). Relapses can last for varying periods – from a few days up to months – and then the disease may then be inactive for months or years.
- Secondary-Progressive MS (SPMS) is a secondary phase of RRMS that may develop years or even decades but most people who have RRMS will transition to SPMS. In SPMS there is progressive worsening of symptoms over time with no definite periods of remission. SPMS can also be categorized by whether it is active or not active (someone who has active MS experiences relapses and/or evidence of new MRI activity).
- Primary-Progressive MS (PPMS) is not very common and is characterized by steadily worsening symptoms and disability from the start, rather than sudden attacks or relapses followed by recovery.
- Tingling, numbness
- Problems with balance, walking and foot drop
- Changes in vision
- Depression/emotional changes
- Impaired thinking/understanding/memory
- Slurred speech and stuttering
- Dizziness and vertigo
- Bladder and bowel problems
- Sexual problems
- Muscle spasms/tremors
- Changes with grip – tending to drop things
People living with MS can improve the likelihood of managing MS progression by:
- Obtaining an early diagnosis; the earlier Disease Modifying Therapy for MS is started, the better the future outcome.
- Addressing the symptoms (rest breaks, avoiding extreme temperatures, medications).
- Improving lifestyle factors (eating well, exercise, sleeping well, managing moods and stress).