Getting Back What Was Once Lost: New Technologies for Productive Life
New emerging technologies stimulate development of prosthetics. The evolution of this sector over the latest decade could be followed along the track record of Motorica. We spoke of feasibility of recovering lost sensitivity with Andrei Davidiuk, CEO of Motorica
Motorica has been operating since 2014. Next year will be an anniversary for you, could you please tell us how you started out and how you came up with the idea to launch the company?

The project was launched by two engineers, who ventured into 3D printing projects. Initially this was a charitable project without any business ambitions. Russia did not have any functional prosthetics for children, only cosmetic options for masking traumas were available. The first prosthetic prototype for children turned out to be successful, and the project started getting investments. Then I came to the future company as a business angel.

What are the successes of the company?

Since 2016 Motorica has manufactured over 6000 prostheses for users from 17 countries, including Russia, CIS countries, France, India, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, South Korea. Our company offers the world’s broadest range of prosthetic arms. We manufacture active powered and bionic prosthetic fingers, hands, forearms and shoulder modules. 

Could you please tell why do you make upper limb prostheses only?

Initially we focused on manufacturing upper limb prostheses only to make these products perfect based on technologies available to us — today we have the broadest upper limb prosthetics range in the world, and we are the only company to make prostheses for children starting from 2 years old. Now we are actively researching all lower limb prosthetic solutions in Russia and abroad.

Next year we have plans to start production of lower limb prosthetics and launch distribution of neurostimulators with electrodes for treatment of chronic pains and symptomatic treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and Parkinson's disease.

It turns out you are the only Russian company making prosthetic arms?

No, we are not, there are other prosthetic arm manufacturers. But we are by ten times ahead of them by the number of manufactured items. 

Are you capable of meeting the total demand? What is your share of the market needs?

Yes, we are, we take up over 40% of the Russian market. The country ensures efficient support, there is a state-funded social system, providing any Russian citizen with any sophisticated prosthesis free of charge. If a patient has any issues with paperwork or when a patient is not a Russian national, we will help him to collect funds for a prosthesis through charitable partner funds.

Are you developing with your own funds or do you use external funding?

In 2019 and 2020 Motorica raised over RUB 400 million from the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and the Far East High Technology Fund (FEHTF) — this was a largest venture investment on the market of assistive technologies in Russia.

In October 2023 Motorica made its debut on the IPO bond market for RUB 300 million, raised on the Moscow Exchange. And this was the first time in the history of Russia by an upper limb prostheses manufacturer. The next step will be an IPO for shares.

Do you get state support?

Yes, we do. Motorica is efficiently using government support. For instance, our Skolkovo Fund resident status provides us with comprehensive support: grants, consulting, media support, assistance in developing relations with various stakeholders: government agencies, business, non-profit institutions. Our grant support makes up RUB 22 million.
Grants by the Innovation Promotion Fund are spent on developing bionic prostheses for adults and children, and also on a cloud platform for rehabilitation.

The company is researching ways to treat phantom limb pains, “sensitizing” a prosthesis. Could you please speak about this area, why was this objective chosen?

Recreating lost sensitivity (sensitive feedback) is a major challenge of the prosthetics industry. Motorica jointly with the FEFU (Far Eastern Federal University) and Skoltech is developing a platform to “sensitize” artificial limbs and phantom suppression. The system comprises a prosthesis, a neurostimulator with electrodes, special finger sensors and software. Today test pilots can differentiate item size and texture and can tell whether an object is hard or soft.

Motorica is developing neural technologies, proprietary neurostimulators — devices, initially designed to suppress chronic pains, for symptomatic treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and Parkinson's disease. In the second quarter of 2024 these devices will be registered and made available for sale.

We are regularly looking for volunteers for research of phantom pain suppression, we are inviting amputees to help us in our development activities. Test pilots will receive their own neurostimulators and will be able to test them in their everyday life.

What is the level of import substitution for technologies and components used?

Our body powered prostheses are 100% made in Russia. We use foreign chips and micromotors for finger movements in our bionic prostheses. We use very common chips, available in stock all over the world, these were even unaffected by the crisis of 2020-22.We used to test European micromotors, now we have found an Eastern channel, continuously covering our needs. We have plans to completely switch over to domestic components. In 2024 with the help of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Russia we will begin testing micromotors by a Russian manufacturer.