DTU start-up GEND awarded Bevica Seed Grant

We are happy to announce that the start-up GEND has been awarded DKKR 55.000 from The Bevica Foundation in March 2022 through the DTU Skylab Funding programme for their innovative solution leaving no woman behind. The Bevica Seed Grant is awarded to DTU start-ups working within the field of accessibility and universal design.

Accessing the toilet spontaneously whenever the need calls is a daily activity many of us take for granted. For female wheelchair users, this is not the case. Due to the lack of availability of accessible public toilets, female wheelchair users are unable to pee outside their homes – limiting them from having an active social life. They suffer from “social incontinence”, meaning that even though their bladders are fully functional, they are unable to pee whenever, wherever they are. This results in them often having to undergo surgery to insert and change catheters, which can have severe health impacts. The DTU startup GEND is on a mission to change this and to enable female wheelchair users to pee whenever, wherever.

The inclusive solution

GEND has invented a U-form shaped inflatable seat solution that is placed on top of the wheelchair seat, so when inflated, enables the user to pee without leaving the wheelchair. The aim is to develop a solution that is both functional and aesthetically appealing that meets the user’s needs in such a way that they can live spontaneous everyday lives and hopefully will not need to undergo urinary catheter surgery. Their main target market is female wheelchair users with normal bladder function. The estimated national market size of approx. 19.000 potential users in Denmark and 2.5 million users within the EU. The startup is primarily looking into B2C and B2B market strategies (instead of B2G) since they have found the purchasing power of these market segments to be relatively high.

The idea for the assistive technology solution originated from a student project collaboration with Pressalit A/S on a real-world challenge, facilitated by the DTU Skylab initiative Technology Leaving no one Behind. This collaboration opportunity has opened the start-ups’ eyes to the lack of innovation within this industry, despite the needs, and provided valuable access to both design and mentor resources.

In order to accelerate the development of their solution, the startup has participated in Health & Rehab Scandinavia 2021 together with DTU Skylab, Innovation Day at DTU Skylab in March and is now part of the DTU Skylab Ignite accelerator program. They are in the process of doing user-research together with end-users from Egmont Højskolen to get their first proof of concept. User-centered design and user-involvement is so central to their design strategy, that they have created an online forum for co-creation and user-feedback with over 40 members.

If you want to be part of this online forum, please contact Nanna Lundbæk Sørensen on s205274@student.dtu.dk.

The Bevica Seed Grant is a welcome financial contribution to achieve milestones like the minimal viable product and full patent protection. The team has also recently created a special course to free some time to work on their start-up.  

The team

The team consists of five Process & Innovation students: Nanna Lundbæk Sørensen, Ann-SofieMeldgaard Hjarsø, Simon Kjær Konstantinowich, Anton Wilhelm Deussen, and Christian Olesen Fabius. The team formed during the 3rd semester of Process & Innovation at DTU Ballerup in the course ‘From Idea to Check-out’ in 2021. According to the startup, they have a good distribution of qualifications, roles, and responsibilities within the team, coupled with an agile management approach, that enables the team to adapt to a variation of challenges and tasks.

The team is motivated by co-creating and making a difference for women who benefit from their solution. Ultimately, the greatest driving force behind their work is positively impacting and creating value for someone being left behind. The feedback they have gotten from stakeholders like end-users and investors, along with the recognition from the Bevica Seed Grants, are great motivational factors for developing their solution further. 

In the future, the startup is looking to expand their target markets focusing on new user groups and market segments, e.g. male users or segments within developing countries. This could encompass new design iterations and business opportunities into technological solutions leaving no one behind. DTU Skylab is happy to support the start-up on their journey with relevant events, offers and opportunities.

Read more about the DTU startup GEND here: https://www.linkedin.com/company/gend-seat/