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April 2024 Written by 
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Walking thanks to an exoskeleton

Biomedical specialist and Somanity founder Mathieu Merian is presenting a new exoskeleton prototype this year, which he hopes to bring to market in 2025.

By Eve Chatelet


"I set up my first business, digital printing specialist My3D, the year I passed my baccalaureate. That's how I funded this exoskeleton, and we've been self-financing from the start," says Mathieu Merian. He founded Somanity in Sophia-Antipolis after studying electrical engineering and industrial computing at Skema Business School. His parents were restorers in Sainte-Maxime, where he grew up, and he initially designed a prosthetic arm for an amputee, which is how he got hooked on biomechanics. "After talking to a friend with multiple sclerosis, I came up with the idea of building an exoskeleton. It's like an open suit of Iron Man armour that you put on and stand up straight. It raised a smile when I said I wanted to help wheelchair users walk again by providing a much cheaper solution than the alternatives. We're a young team – and criticised for that. When we made our initial prototype, they told us we had no medical validation – it’s currently underway. Regardless, we're a motivated team that understands we're fighting for a project that can change people's lives.”

Technology empowering the human body

"There are many solutions on the market, but we are trying to offer versions with a lower out-of-pocket cost. We’ve partnered with APF France handicap to develop a more stylish exoskeleton and try to avoid it looking like a medical device. A man once told me he wanted an exoskeleton that made people want to be disabled, and that left an impression on me. We want to help give these people back their freedom of movement," adds Mathieu Merian. This inventor’s commitment is not new: "Both my grandfathers were DIY enthusiasts, so I had a soldering iron in my hands at a tender age. As a teenager, I found that my creations didn't have the design edge I was looking for. I saw a television report explaining that you could create plastic parts in our minds. I found Volumic, a 3D printer manufacturer in Nice, and asked to do an internship. I came away with parts that enabled me to build my first printer." Somanity has received backing from Skema Ventures, the European Space Agency and the Provence Côte d'Azur incubator. Now a partner of Inria Sophia-Antipolis, the Université Côte d'Azur and Nice University Hospital, Mathieu Merian will be presenting the final version of his exoskeleton at the Viva Tech trade fair in June. His objective is to raise funds to speed up the development process and bring the device to market as early as 2025.

Localisation Sophia-Antipolis

(travail sur le projet dès 2021)

Activité Recherche-développement en biotechnologie

Collaborateursune dizaine de salariés

Capital social 40 000 €

Read 274 times Last modified on 04.2024


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