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Prothesia wins online Pioneer competition with 3D printed medical solution

Don't worry, we speak : Español (Spanish), too!

Contxto – A medical technology startup from Mexico, Prothesia, recently won the Pioneer competition based on its 3D printed solutions for children and adults suffering from Cerebral palsy (CP).

Based on the big win, the company earned funding and mentorship among groups of industry experts. These include Tyler Cowen, Marc Andreessen, Laura Deming, plus many more. 

Over 500,000 Mexican children suffer from CP, many of whom don’t have adequate treatment options. Due to the high costs, many spend over 1 million pesos (around US$50,000) in health costs over their lifetime. In this regard, Prothesia lowers the economic burden for these patients and their families. 

The program

If the name doesn’t ring a bell, Pioneer is a weekly online competition for creative entrepreneurs launched by the entrepreneur and former Y Combinator partner, Daniel Gross. Everything revolves around a monthly online tournament to receive funding and network with a community of like-minded inventors.

Specifically, this involves passing psychometric tests, receiving up-votes from peers and mentors, as well as providing detailed project updates. 

“This is a very new platform,” said co-founder Francisco Valencia. “As Daniel Gross said, this is an experiment so they can find new talent anywhere throughout the world. It even looks like a video game.”

For those who come out victorious, winners receive US$7,000. Also, they earn round-trip tickets to Silicon Valley to work with mentors to turn ideas into realities. Scaling opportunities, hacking, mentoring and positive feedback facilitate the process. 

Affordable healthcare

Francisco Valencia, Julio Barriga and Guillermo Herrera-Acros are the three young entrepreneurs behind this startup. Together, they created an on-demand platform people suffering from CP to access orthoses at the lowest possible cost.

Many people may mistake orthoses for prosthetics. While prosthetics replace a missing limb, orthoses are essentially add-ons for increased support or better mobility for pre-existing body parts, such as feet. Since CP entails lack of control of neural limbs, Prothesia’s products enhance pre-existing bodily functions.  

To accomplish this, they leverage 3D printing as well as parametric CAD design technology software to provide the most affordable treatment options. At its core are orthoses, which are supplemental pieces meant to correct limb or spine disorders via braces or other devices to correct alignment and provide support.

All in all, Prothesia develops orthoses in a shorter time period that’s 10-times cheaper than traditional plaster-based models.


Jacob Atkins
Jacob Atkins is a journalist specializing in Latin America. He studied journalism and international relations at American University in Washington, D.C. and has previously reported from Chile, Ecuador, Haiti and Mexico. When he isn't writing he's most likely hiking or drawing.


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