Press Release

Nia receives $1.5M CAD to scale 3D PrintAbility

Grand Challenges Canada, Google.org, Autodesk Foundation, and Stronger Philanthropy fund 3D printing innovation – technology designed to cut production time for prosthetic and orthotic devices

May 10, 2016 (Toronto, Ontario): Canadian non-profit start-up Nia Technologies Inc. (Nia) has been awarded over $1.5 M CAD by Grand Challenges Canada, Google.org, Autodesk Foundation, and Stronger Philanthropy to trial and scale its 3D PrintAbility innovation. Hatched as an idea by cbm Canada, and developed in collaboration with the University of Toronto iSchool’s Semaphore research cluster and Autodesk Research, 3D PrintAbility is a viable, deployable digital toolchain that promises to cut production time and increase output in overtaxed orthopaedic workshops in developing countries.

Preliminary testing of 3D PrintAbility in Uganda in 2015 enabled local orthopaedic technologists to produce high-quality, better-fitting devices more quickly than with conventional methods, reducing production time from 5 days to 1.5 days. The toolchain combines specialized 3D scanning, modelling, and printing software with commercially available scanners and printers to produce custom prosthetic and orthotic devices for young people with lower limb disabilities.

“Funding is the lifeblood of innovation. It’s also a vote of confidence in 3D PrintAbility’s potential to increase access to life-changing prosthetic and orthotic devices in low- and mid-income countries,” says Jerry Evans, Nia President and CEO. “Grand Challenges Canada, Google.org, Autodesk Foundation, Stronger Philanthropy, and other donors are enabling us to rigorously trial the 3D PrintAbility toolchain in workshops in developing countries and create support mechanisms that enhance the knowledge and skills of local orthopaedic personnel.”

Building on its earlier funding of 3D PrintAbility’s development, Grand Challenges Canada is supporting Nia’s efforts to scale the technology. “Grand Challenges Canada, funded by the Government of Canada, is pleased to support this bold idea which will have the immediate impact of helping an estimated 225 children and youth to walk and could transform how prosthetics are made,” says Dr. Peter A. Singer, Chief Executive Officer of Grand Challenges Canada.

“Funding is the lifeblood of innovation. It’s also a vote of confidence in 3D PrintAbility’s potential to increase access to life-changing prosthetic and orthotic devices in low- and mid-income countries.”

Jerry Evans

President & CEO, Nia Technologies

Grand Challenges Canada’s funding is matched with grants from Autodesk Foundation, Google.org, Stronger Philanthropy, and others. This combined funding allows Nia to build its capacity, conduct ongoing R&D, expand the trials of 3D PrintAbility in developing countries, transfer knowledge to more orthopaedic personnel, and create an open source online support system for local technologists to test the quality of orthopaedic devices they design and print.

3D PrintAbility is being developed in Nia Technologies’ lab space at University of Toronto’s iSchool and will undergo further clinical trials in Uganda and other low-income countries starting in June 2016.

About Nia Technologies Inc.

Nia Technologies Inc. is a Canadian non-profit social enterprise that develops and deploys 3D PrintAbility orthopaedic solutions in developing countries. Formed and owned by cbm Canada, Nia is supported by the University of Toronto, Grand Challenges Canada, and other foundations and donors. niatech.org

Nia Media Contact

Kathleen Gotts, kgotts@niatech.org, 647.969.9351