Nonspec: Success Story

Innovation for accessible medical devices

Nonspec COO Erin Keaney in the prosthetic limb workshop.

Making healthcare work for those who need it most

This innovative UMass Lowell startup is changing the way we think about prosthetics

The UMass Lowell Nonspec team

The Nonspec team knows the modern healthcare and medical device market often leaves behind the most in-need and vulnerable populations. For people missing limbs, prosthetics are expensive and can often be rigid and non-adjustable. Additionally, many of these products fit children that will soon grow out of them, leaving them with the need to buy new new devices frequently. 

Nonspec, a startup spun out of UMass Lowell, has a solution: affordable and adjustable prosthetic limb systems. Designed with flexibility in mind, Nonspec’s goal is to provide one system that adapts to the user both in the clinic and on-the-go.

Incredibly durable, Nonspec’s prosthetics last 4+ years. Highly adjustable, the product features over 7 centimeters of adjustment and 9 degrees of freedom, which allow Nonspec’s prosthetics to correct for all gait adjustment needs – without new parts or components.

“Younger amputees that have been fit with our device have been able to go back to playing their favorite sports thanks to our lightweight technology” said co-founder Erin Keaney.

FORGE impact: expansion

With this life-changing business idea in hand, Nonspec first contacted FORGE (at the time, Greentown Learn) in 2017 for help with accelerated expansion to support moving product into the hands of people that needed it most. Having developed and tested successful prototypes, the startup needed help connecting with a right-fit plastics manufacturer – with the necessary sophistication and capacity to enable the transition from lab prototype to scaled production. FORGE immediately invited them to participate in one of our Rocket Pitch events.

A FORGE Rocket Pitch gives startups the chance to pitch to a panel of supply chain and hardware experts within FORGE’s network of over 350 regional suppliers. FORGE connected the Nonspec team with more than 15 local suppliers including Toner Plastics, Peerless Precision, and Cofab Design.

“We made some great connections,” said Erin Keaney, VP and Co-founder of Nonspec. After the Rocket Pitch event Keaney commented “We really have a good idea of how we want to move forward. We are hoping to reach out to some of the companies in the partnership for some consultations to make sure that our newest changes are readily scalable.”

Success for Nonspec

Armed with FORGE-curated expert advice and newly formed connections, Nonspec has been able to scale their products efficiently and effectively over the past three years. Nonspec has deployed over 250 units in the field, impacting amputees in 5 countries around the world. In light of the current COVID-19 situation, the Nonspec team has even pivoted to PPE production. They’re putting their innovative minds and resources to work creating face shields for essential workers. FORGE is thrilled to continue to support this innovative team of makers as their global expansion unfolds and to continue to support Nonspec in their fight to make prosthetics more advanced, adjustable, and ready to meet the needs of all who rely on them.