5 Minds Mobility, Oshawa, Ontario
Jenn Atkinson is an occupational therapist and clinical director of 5 Minds Mobility.
What They Do
5 Minds Mobility is an Oshawa-based medical equipment company. They develop and produce mattresses and wheelchair cushions that help prevent skin breakdown in patients who are immobile.
When someone is immobile for long periods of time in a wheelchair or bed, the pressure and friction of their skin against the material (known as sheer) can result in painful wounds and bed sores. As an occupational therapist, 5 Minds clinical director Jenn Atkinson was often asked to recommend cushions to her patients. “There were products on the market that help to reduce pressure, but there were no products available to counteract the friction and scraping aspects of sheer,” says Jenn. There was a clear gap in the market. With a growing aging population, there is a clear need to be filled. This was 5 Minds’ big opportunity.
5 Minds Mobility developed a patent-pending Shear Reduction Technology (SRT) that reduces the friction aspect of sheer in a cushion or mattress.
Making It Happen
With this great idea in mind, 5 Minds Mobility reached out to the Business Advisory Centre of Durham (BACD) http://www.bacd.ca. “I went in there just to get information, but it led to a domino effect,” says Jenn. “The BACD facilitated links with Durham College and with Spark Centre.” Thanks to funding from the Colleges Ontario Network for Industry Innovation (CONII), Jenn worked with faculty and students at Durham College to test SRT in wheelchair seating. In late 2011, they conducted a six-week clinical trial at Wynfield Long Term Care Residence in Oshawa. “Being able to conduct an unbiased, third-party trial was key to the credibility of the product,” says Jenn.
Working With Spark
“The people at Spark have been great advocates for us. They gave us so much help with business advice, consultation with a potential distributor, our pitches, our presentation style, and future planning. I come from a clinical background, so this was all new for me. It was great to have guidance and have someone tell me what questions to ask.” “The relationship with Durham College and Spark Centre has given us a lot of credibility. We’re not just ‘another company.’ We’re part of Spark, now.”
Advice to Local Entrepreneurs
“It takes a leap of faith to follow your idea through to business, but when you use the resources out there it can really help. It’s easy to think you won’t get the grant you want or the help you need, but it does happen. Don’t try to re-invent the wheel. Access the resources that are out there, and then just go for it!”