Exoligamentz: From student idea to funded R&D

An inspirational story for (future) student entrepreneurs

Ashkan Joshghani, a 3rd Master student in veterinary medicine at Ghent University, pursued his dream to develop a new type of sports glove. With a lot of passion and willingness to succeed, he recently created a unique link between innovative academic research, valorisation management and student-entrepreneurship. What started as a student’s idea, ultimately resulted into a partnership agreement with Ghent university, the approval of a funded research and development (R&D) project and a joint patent application. This is the story behind the project called ‘Exoligamentz’.

Ashkan is an athlete in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, one of the most effective and fastest growing martial arts in the world. Within this sport, he noticed that fingers are often prone to injury as the joints consistently endure significant forces and impact.

After encountering several finger injuries in his first year as an athlete, he realized that the long-term effects of these repetitive injuries could not be avoided if he proceeded with this sport. The same problem was also shown by other well-known (young) athletes, of which some even could not make a closed fist anymore due to the repetitive injuries they already faced.

Like most of these people, he also started to use sport tape to protect his fingers. However, he faced another problem: daily use of sports tape costs a lot of time and money, but more importantly, the tape lacks sufficient protection. When sweat and motion comes in play, the tape often loses its supportive function resulting in trauma or pain and discomfort due to overuse.

So, he decided to address this issue by using his medical know-how and practical experience in this type of sports to design an innovative sport glove. His (prototype) design includes a way to restrict improper joint motion while still maintaining functional movements of the hand. 

Next, Ashkan arranged meetings with professors and researchers within the university to present his idea. To further explore the possibilities to develop this kind of product within the university, he approached the appropriate business developer (Kristof De Mey) and the central Tech Transfer (TT) office for legal and intellectual property (IP) support.

He ultimately established a partnership by sharing his IP with the university. As the results of the search for preliminary prior art confirmed the glove to be innovative, it was jointly decided to submit a patent application. In addition, a project proposal to develop a prototype and a relevant test method was written in close collaboration between Ashkan, textile (Prof Lieva Van Langenhove) and physical therapy researchers and clinicians and the Victoris business developer, which was ultimately approved in April this year. In addition, Steve Stevens from the ‘Dare to venture’ program for Ghent University students with entrepreneurial ambitions, supported the project from the beginning.   

So, it took Ashkan two years of dedicated work, but he succeeded in establishing this partnership. Therefore, he is now the project leader of the Exoligamentz project. Ashkan is still combining his entrepreneurial endeavours with studying veterinary medicine, which for your information is the world best faculty in its kind, according to the Shanghai Global Ranking of Academic Subjects.

We believe this story may be an inspiration for every student to pursue his/her entrepreneurial dream! Whether it will lead to a commercial success is still unknown. Nevertheless, it shows that dedication, a proactive attitude and a passion for innovation may open new paths for structural support for student-entrepreneurs in the future. 

Students with ideas for start-ups or innovations in sports technology, sportswear or nutrition, may contact us to arrange an intake meeting.

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