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Highly innovative push-pull handbike for boosting wheelchair mobility

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - STRINGBIKE (Highly innovative push-pull handbike for boosting wheelchair mobility)

Okres sprawozdawczy: 2016-11-01 do 2017-04-30

With our project called STRINGBIKE we intend to ease the daily life of wheelchair users. To ensure effective personal mobility, we offer our specially designed wheelchair which fits their users correctly and meets their specific needs. This requires an approach that is responsive to individual needs. However, statistics show that less than 5% of those in need have access to a properly fitted wheelchair.
Push-pull handbike is developed because we experienced the need for a supplementary vehicle that enhances the mobility of wheelchair users. Most of the similar products on the market can be bought only on the Internet or are ‘home-made’ but we aim to commercialise our handbike with a better technology in serial production and through traditional commercial channels of wheelchairs. Our push-pull handbike has several advantages in comparison with the most popular chain driven pedalling handbikes connected to wheelchairs:
 the push-pull motion is better for the arms and backs than the hand pedalling movement
 easily usable for upward movements on hills as little rowing movements are enough to set the Stringbike in motion, while this is usually very complicated with the hand pedalling bikes
 the Stringbike technology enables moving the wheelchair and the bicycle only with one arm too
 can be used also by children, thin women and old people, who usually cannot use the hand pedals as their arms are too short and/or weak
 in rain the chain driven handbikes make their users very dirty, while the Stringbike model does not splash water, mud or oil onto its users
 it is possible to change gear also in standing position, there is no need to move the bike for this purpose like in case of the chain driven bikes
 faster speed can be reached with smaller effort comparing with all competing solutions on the handbike market
 it has very small turning circle, therefore it is easy to use at small places (for example inside of buildings) too

To involve and offer better quality of life for wheelchair users is our most important aim. Stringbike project is working for social equality and inclusion. To reach these general aims we had four objectives in the Phase 1 project.
These are the following:

-Performing a detailed market research
-Medical partner search
-Production partner search
-Working out an international know-how protection and certificating strategy
Our overall objectives during Phase 1 were mostly connected to a successful market entry and the finding of stable partnership for commercialisation all over Europe. To reach these goals we have performed a market research where we found that there is a strong willingness to buy our product. In the framework of a detailed market research we organised a roadshow, where wheelchair-users tested the Stringhandbike and gave useful feedbacks. Also, during the market research we contacted wheelchair users’ associations which helped us to perform interviews with end-users about their willingness to buy and pay. Wheelchair producers and other relevant partners reflected about some technological details regarding the structure of the handbike (interconnectivity). Funding opportunities in the framework of health insurance and other schemes were also mapped as part of the market research.
According to our second objective we started to search for medical partner and have received our first letter of cooperation from the National Medical Rehabilitation Institute (OORI) who will test the bike with patients.
We also started to investigate the funding opportunities through health insurance schemes, and consulted with OORI. It turned out that it is usually very difficult to get funding in the framework of these insurance schemes in case of similar supplementary products of wheelchairs. Therefore, we decided to realise first our own business and commercialisation model in the European countries, and after a successful market launch further funding and sales channels will be used as well.
To fulfill our third objective we also contacted the best potential production partners Our closest partner is CSEPEL Bike Zrt who will be responsible for the serial production of the push-pull handbikes. We have found the other partners too that is detailed in the report of the Phase 1 project.
The last objective of Phase 1 project was to create an international know-how protection and certificating strategy. We performed a quick patent research, and we can declare that none of the existing handbike technologies uses string drive, therefore our innovation is unique. We paid significant attention to IPR issues from the beginning, and we obtained more patents in connection with our string driven bikes already in the early period of the developments. There are 3 patents related to our push-pull handbike: 1) a patent of a ‘Device for driving a common shaft by pushing and pulling’; 2) a patent of a ‘Wheel hub arrangement for a wheel driven by an alternating symmetric drive system using a flexible pulling element that can be used in vehicles particularly in bicycles’; and 3) a patent of an ‘Alternating drive primarily for bicycles and similar driven vehicles’. The patents cover the EU member states, Russia, USA, Canada, China and Japan. Our string drive technology is protected since the beginnings carefully, and our IPR issues are managed by Danubia Kft., which is the biggest company in this field in Hungary. Danubia Kft. is authorized to the full representation of Stringbike Kft. in know-how protection including the registration of the patents, their reservation and the legal representation in case of litigation. All patent rights belong to our company, the patent value is around 1 million EUR.
It is difficult to determine the amount of wheelchair users in Europe, their number is between 2.5 and 5 million according to different sources. There are around 10 million wheelchair users in the developed countries altogether, and another 50-60 million people use wheelchair in the developing countries . We are aware of the fact that only a part of them is willing to use mechanical drive for making their wheelchair mobile. We target those wheelchair users who want to be fit by manually driving their wheelchair but are not satisfied with the current products on the market. WHO statistics show that less than 5% of those in need have access to a properly fitted wheelchair and this is trend we intend to change. Therefore, stakeholders directly involved in the planning, implementation and participation of the wheelchair service delivery:
 users and their families or caregivers;
 government authorities, including ministries responsible for health, social welfare and education and other relevant departments and local authorities;
 existing health and rehabilitation services managed by governmental, private, nongovernmental, international nongovernmental or disabled people’s organizations;
 supporting organizations providing technical input or funding; and
 rehabilitation personnel including trained wheelchair service personnel.

Rehabilitation personnel including doctors and therapists - as counsellors about choosing wheelchairs and supplementary vehicles - are important participants in the commercialisation chain of our push-pull handbike, therefore we will pay special attention to them in our commercialisation strategy. With the involvement of all stakeholder we can ensure that the Pushpull Bike will be available for everyone who decides to live a more active and more equal life.

It is also important to mention that most of the supplementary bikes of wheelchairs on the market favour male users who usually have strong arm and back muscles for driving the two transport devices (wheelchair and bike) that take 20-30 kg together. By making the drive easier and the bicycle lighter we would like to boost mobility of thinner wheelchair users - women among them - who have usually weaker muscles than men.
This latter one is a really strong socio-economic factor since women and children can also use our bike and thus they are involved into the daily life in much higher percentage.
pushpull bike separated from adapter
Pushpull bike matched with the adapter