Baltimore Start Up NextStep Robotics Receives $600,000 in Second Funding Round to Further Develop Stroke Rehabilitation Device

 NextStep Robotics, a University of Maryland, Baltimore start up tackling stroke rehabilitation, specifically foot drop, has new local partners with investments from the Abell Foundation, University of Maryland Ventures, and partners of the LaunchPort™ Accelerator.

 Baltimore, MD (May 14, 2019) NextStep Robotics Inc., an early-stage company that has developed a personalized robotic therapy to help treat foot drop in recovering stroke patients, announces the closing of its second funding round. The $600,000 round will allow NextStep to transition from prototyping and development to manufacturing and sales. Led by the Abell Foundation, a new investor, this round includes investments from previous private investors from Vancouver, Canada and new investors the Abell Foundation, University of Maryland (UM) Ventures, and Jeff and Brad Quinn of Engineered Medical Systems, Inc. (EMS), a partner company of the newly-formed LaunchPort™ Accelerator.

Led by Brad Hennessie, former University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) staff member turned entrepreneur, NextStep Robotics is based on intellectual property licensed from UMB; the robotic therapy has more than a decade of research behind it. It is the first effective treatment option for foot drop and helps stroke survivors and others regain mobility using clinically proven rehabilitation training. This treatment option serves a growing national need. With 5 million stroke survivors in the U.S. and 800,000 new strokes per year, this limit on mobility that inhibits people from lifting their toe while walking puts them at risk for a falls and limits their ability to access their communities. Although the initial focus is on stroke victims, foot drop also afflicts people suffering from other maladies such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease, afflictions that are also increasing in incidence in the population.

NextStep Robotics gives clinics the ability to offer personalized robotics therapy through its adaptive software which provides an assist-as-needed approach. Worn by the patient, the easy-to-use robot is designed to be operated by any trained clinical staff, freeing up therapists with highly advanced training to provide hands-on treatment of patients’ other rehabilitation needs.

The robot’s unique training protocol is used to promote motor learning in just a few weeks. From a clinical standpoint, the robot serves as a training device, not an assistive device. One robot placed in a clinic can provide training to as many as 100 patients per year. Additionally, the device will be placed in clinics initially as an exercise device and the training protocol provides enough of an effect to elicit neuromotor reeducation in its users allowing higher reimbursement rates than the usual gait training or therapeutic exercise.

“The leadership team at NextStep Robotics continues to make great progress in the development of its personalized robotics therapy,” said Phil Robilotto, associate vice president in the UMB Office of Technology Transfer and director of UM Ventures, Baltimore. “UM Ventures is delighted to support the company by participating in the most recent round of financing.”

Since it was founded in the spring of 2017 NextStep has been housed in the Maryland Development Center, created by Dr. Gil Blankenship of University of Maryland, College Park and nine UMB clinicians to develop technologies that come out of Baltimore area universities and hospitals.

 About the Abell Foundation

The Abell Foundation is dedicated to the enhancement of the quality of life in Maryland, with a focus on Baltimore City. Their investments are targeted at Baltimore-based companies that can create employment opportunities in the city through local expansion. Returns from their investments are used to further their grant-making priorities and to reinvest in local businesses.

 About the Quinn Brothers and the LaunchPort™ Accelerator

The Quinn brothers are co-presidents of Engineered Medical Systems, Inc. (EMS), a partner company of the newly-formed LaunchPort™ Accelerator located in Port Covington’s City Garage in Baltimore City.

 About Engineered Medical Systems (Indianapolis, IN)

Established in 1986, Engineered Medical Systems (EMS) (Indianapolis, IN), provides contract manufacturing and private label medical devices for a variety of private and multi-national medical devices manufacturers and distributors. Engineered Medical Systems – Malaysia in Penang, Malaysia was established in 2014 to support international products and markets. All EMS facilities are ISO-13485 certified facilities.

A sister company of EMS, Pulmodyne, Inc.,  develops, markets, and sells a proprietary line of products in the Critical Care, Airway Management, and Emergency markets, with a worldwide sales network of over 70 global distributors and 20 domestic distributors.

 About UM Ventures

UM Ventures is an initiative to channel the tremendous technical resources and research expertise of the University of Maryland, engaging partners in industry and social ventures to expand real world impact. By encouraging students and faculty, and by providing expert advice and business services, more discoveries will reach the market. By engaging directly with external partners, UM Ventures brings new investment, expanded markets, and more startup ventures. Visit to learn more.


Media contact:
Bradley Hennessie
CEO, NextStep Robotics Inc.