5 crowd-funding tips

1) Don't think it's all about the money

“You approach a crowd-funding platform because you need money to realise your dream. But, what you receive from a campaign is so much more than financial backing. The Open Hand Project campaign created this amazing community of people who are still supporting the project a year on. We were backed by over 1,000 people and that is an incredibly important validation of what we're trying to do. Your backers are the people who set you up for so many opportunities in the future. They're invaluable.” - Open Bionics founder, Joel Gibbard.

Dextrus Hand Open Hand Project

Open Bionics was born out of The Open Hand Project, Bristol's most successful Indiegogo campaign. The campaign raised over £40,000 to fund the development of 3D printed robotic hands.

2) Don't wait for the shares

“The key to a successful campaign is in the back campaign (prep). Kickstarter will help with letting people know about your campaign but don't rely on it. Use social media to find your market across their various hangouts and bring them onto your project page. This should be carried out online in the form of forums, blogs and news sites and in the physical world at local shows or community spaces.

Don't Lie, too. Kickstarter backers come from a variety of places but a key market they attract is early adopters. They have backed projects before and know what to look for, they know the technology and can identify weak points. Use this to your advantage by pulling from them their experiences. They will love to help, and respond well to good communicators.” - Omnidynamics co-founder, David Graves.

Kickstarter to fund their first product called Strooder. The Strooder campaign asked for $20,000 and was funded in 11 hours. They raised over $60,000 by the end of their campaign.

3) Don't assume anything!

“Don't rush the preparation and make sure the project has been planned and costed in detail beforehand. Risk assess and think through consequences of problems and things not going to plan as this will be inevitable!” - Agilic founder, Harry Gee.

it's first product, Tiddlybot, through Kickstarter and raised over $10,000 more than their goal. View the campaign page here.

4) Don't hit that 'go live' button just yet

“Timing and preparation is key: Make sure you know everything about your manufacturing costs, timeline and margins before you launch. Once you take crowd money, you owe them the product you promised.” - Reach Robotics founder, Silas Adekunle.

[Ed: Great point, learn from this... The Ring]

the world's first gaming robots. The company was set to launch an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign this month but delayed it.

5) Don't wait for the publicity to roll in

“If you're new to social media pick at least one platform and master it. This could be Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or YouTube. Communication is key for a successful campaign so post regularly, stay positive, and stay away from online arguments or controversy. Expand your reach by getting involved with established online communities whether that's through RoboHub, IEEE Automaton blog, or another outlet.” - Robohub president, Dr. Sabine Hauert.

Robohub is a nonprofit platform where users can share news with the technology community, it has also partnered with two successful campaigns to fund robotics products.

Don't forget to sign up for emails on the homepage if you want the latest tips and tutorials.

3D printed hand wins award

Open Bionics founder Joel Gibbard has won a prosthetic innovation award for his work developing 3D printed robotic hands for amputees.

The Limbless Association Prosthetic and Orthotics Awards recognise and reward outstanding contributions and achievements in the limb-loss and healthcare communities.

Joel was in a tightly fought category with Lee Duffy who is innovating prosthetic sockets by using natural plant fibre.

Awards judge and presenter Deborah Johnson, from sponsors Slater & Gordon, said the ceremony was an absolute pleasure and she was glad to see Joel pick up a prize.

Deborah said: “I had a very difficult job selecting a winner from the top class nominees but was delighted to be able to present the award for product innovation to Joel Gibbard of Open Bionics for his incredible work on 3D printed robotic prosthetic hands."

Stuart Holt, Limbless Association trustee, said he was happy to see Joel win and urged him to continue developing the 3D printed robotic hands.

Joel said: “We've come along way since we met the Limbless Association over a year ago. We've achieved a huge amount of innovation in the prosthetics sector since. This award is a magnificent validation of the work we've achieved so far and it inspires us to keep pushing forward. It feels great to be recognised and supported by the amputee community, they're driving this technology innovation as much as we are.”

The awards ceremony celebrated inspirational amputees, prosthetists, user groups, and innovators.

Prosthetic Innovation Award

Joel Gibbard has been shortlisted for an award celebrating innovation in the prosthetics industry.

Joel Gibbard Open Bionics robotic hand

Limbless Association, who provide support to amputees and the limb-loss community, will host the annual 'Prosthetic and Orthotic Awards' in London on December 3rd.

The awards recognize and reward outstanding contributions and achievements in the limb-loss and healthcare communities and the prosthetic and orthotic industry.

Awards' organiser Ed Pearce said: "I am personally really pleased to see that Joel and Open Bionics have been nominated for the award as they offer the  average amputee a high quality product at a more affordable price."

"We have had dozens of inspirational stories and outstanding candidates and I know the judges have had a difficult task with choosing the winners!"

The awards attract professionals who work in the prosthetics and orthotics industry as well as user groups and inspirational people with limb differences.

Joel Gibbard said: “The awards ceremony will be a fantastic evening. I'm looking forward to meeting the industry professionals and people from the limb-loss community so I can gather their thoughts on our project. There's going to be a room full of people with a lifetime of invaluable experiences and knowledge, so we're very grateful to have been included.”

Joel was nominated because of the work he is doing with Open Bionics. Joel is using new technologies to create affordable robotic hands for amputees that will change the healthcare industry.

Joel is focused on making current high-tech robotic hands that cost anywhere between $30,000 and $100,000 for as little as $1,000. 

Categories for awards include 'The Inspiration Award', 'Life Time Achievement Award', 'Outstanding Service by An Individual', 'Disabled Service Centre or Limb Fitting Centre Award', 'User or Support Group Achievement Award', and the 'Prosthetic Innovation Award'.

Open Bionics' big win from Intel

Open Bionics won $200,000 to continue developing bionic hands after finishing second place in Intel's wearable technology competition.

Intel Make it wearable winners open bionics

Founder Joel Gibbard said: "It has been an awesome experience learning from business experts and the other teams. We're far more customer focused now and the result is going to be a prosthetic that is perfectly suited to the needs of amputees. With the money we've now won we can complete the development of this device and get these hands on amputees."

“We totally believe this money will help to revolutionise the prosthetics industry with the use of 3D scanning and 3D printing technology.”

Joel added: “Team Nixie totally deserved the win, they are an amazing set of people who are using technology to open people's minds about what's possible. Likewise, ProGlove are a team of immense talent and I have no doubt that we will be seeing huge innovations from them in the future. It feels great that the winning teams were all from Europe and that we could represent Bristol and the UK.”

brian krzanich venus williams samantha payne joel gibbard

Open Bionics teammate Sammy Payne, said: "This competition has been incredible. We have come a long way and we're very grateful to the industry experts and mentors in Silicon Valley for their coaching and guidance. We've been overwhelmed with the messages of support from people who need bionic hands and we'll be using the $200,000 prize money to get these prosthetics to those people faster.”

“It feels particularly great as a woman because of the five women who were finalists, two walked away as winners. Both teams that placed first and second were the only teams that had women pitching. I think this speaks a lot to the technology and business industry."

"Having the CEO of Best Buy come over to congratulate me on our pitch was a bit surreal. He said he thought our ideas were amazing and it was great to have his support. It was also pretty fantastic when Stefan Olander from Nike stopped me to say hello and shake my hand. The judges seemed impressed with our pitch and offered some great advice." 

Open Bionics won the biggest applause of the evening when the team told judges their work was open source.

The company plans to use the money to get their 3D printed bionic hands fully developed and through medical testing and FDA approval.

The team is driven to create bionic hands that are affordable, comfortable to wear, and that look inspiring. 

Open Bionics is based inside the Bristol Robotics Laboratory in the UK, it is a world-leading centre for robotics and research. 

Feel free to join the chat, tweet @openbionics!

Open Bionics Pitching In The USA

Open Bionics won a place in a global wearable tech competition put on by Intel in August this year.

After being shortlisted from 400 startups in August, Open Bionics has now reached the final top ten.

open bionics intel

On Saturday Open Bionics will pitch to a panel of judges in San Francisco, including Venus Williams and the chairs of Nike, Best Buy, and Louis Vuitton, in a bid to win $500,000.

Founder Joel Gibbard wants to win the funding so he can develop affordable bionic hands and bring them to market. Joel particularly wants the money to begin developing creative children's hands for young amputees.

He hopes the judges will see how investing in this technology could make a real difference to thousands of amputees.

Joel, and his teammate Sammy Payne, are currently in California learning from UC Berkeley and Intel business mentors.

The competition, called Make It Wearable, is run by Intel and supported by UC Berkeley and Vice.

Here's the video Vice made of the team that has reached over 90,000 views:

The competition pushes startups through rigorous business mentoring, and a business incubation scheme.

Open Bionics is competing against two other teams from the UK. You can see a full list of the ten finalists and their inventions here. The lists includes a wearable selfie drone called Nixie: https://makeit.intel.com/finalists

intel logo with robotic hand

You can show your support for the team by tweeting @Openbionics and using the hashtag #MakeItWearable

World First for 3D Printing and Bionics


Open Bionics has performed a world-first by fitting a person born without a hand with a 3D scanned and 3D printed, custom-fitted prosthetic socket, and robotic hand.

24-year-old engineer and Open Bionics founder, Joel Gibbard used commercially available technology he found online to fit Daniel Melville with his first robotic prosthetic hand.

dan melville shaking hands with open bionics robotic hand

This is the first time Joel's robotic hand has been used as a prosthetic. 

Daniel, 23, from Reading, was born without a right hand and contacted Joel after seeing his crowd-funding campaign to develop affordable robotic hands last year.

The whole of Daniel's family backed Joel's campaign, and Daniel volunteered to help with Joel's initial test period last week, bringing his older brother Jonny Melville along to watch.

Daniel said: “It's just too hard to explain at home. You have to see it to get how awesome it is, so I had to bring him.”

Jonny watched and took photos as his younger brother moved around the room picking up objects and manipulating them with his robotic hand.

The thrilled older brother said: “Shaking Daniel's hand was incredible. It didn't even feel like a robot hand, the way it gripped me, it felt just like Dan was shaking my hand.”

In just 20 minutes Joel scanned Daniel's right arm using a 3D sensor, created a 3D mesh of it, and set up his 3D printer to print Daniel a custom-fitted prosthetic socket.

Although 3D scanning and 3D printing a prosthetic socket has been done before, it was the first time anyone has used the technique to custom fit a 3D printed robotic hand.

The socket, which fit the first time it was printed, took 40 hours to print, and it was the first time Joel had used the 3D scanning software. This is a dramatic reduction in time and cost for the prosthetics industry.

Daniel said: “It fitted like a glove. I can't believe how easy that was. Usually, I'd have to have a mold taken of my arm and then wait weeks or months to get the socket. Last time I had a socket mold on my arm they burnt me taking it off, so this is much nicer.”

Joel was happily surprised, saying: “I didn't expect it to come out so well and fit perfectly. But I am going to change the design a bit in future.”


21-year-old Olly McBride, who studies Robotics at UWE, has been working as a programmer for Open Bionics.

Olly connected the robotic hand to Daniel's muscle signals and said: “The best part was seeing the excitement on Dan's face, as he went round trying to pick up everything he could.”

I never really understood how rewarding it would be. It's not just a product  that people buy for a bit of fun and then get bored of, this product will play a major part in their lives.”

Daniel said he stopped wearing his cosmetic prosthetic hand after it kept 'getting in the way' and wished he had a robotic prosthetic hand that looked 'cool' when he was younger.

He added: “This is great now and it will continue to get better but it would have been amazing to have this when I was younger. I would have loved a 3D printed Power Ranger hand. It would have made me feel better about my difference, I think. There are robotic hands out there that I can buy now but they're more expensive than my car. Who can afford that?”

Joel said: “It was heartwarming to see something I've been working on for a year give someone some extra capabilities. Watching Dan write, pick things up, and just play with stuff was pretty exciting for everyone. I did get to shake the hand I made on Dan and it was a bit surreal.”

The next hand I've designed weighs half the amount as that prototype which will make a huge difference for the user and it looks far better.”

Joel admitted he was afraid he was going to be guilty of 'over-engineering' his open source robotic hands.

He said: “I'm not going to be able to stop until I've made something that is perfect. It has to be light-weight, low-cost, and creative. It has to offer something.”

We have some quirky designs for children's hands that will encourage younger amputees to feel good about their difference.”

Patrick Brinson, who also studies Robotics at UWE and works as an electronics engineer for Open Bionics said the first testing stage was 'very touching' to see.

The 22-year-old undergraduate said: “It was great seeing for the first time the mechanical, electronic, and software working as one to give Dan the ability to have a hand he can control. It will give him the ability to do tasks most of us take for granted.”

Patrick added: “It was a great insight into seeing how modern technology can be used to help those less fortunate than others, if there were only more people like Joel in the world putting technology to good use. I can’t wait to see how Open Bionics will change hundreds of people’s lives across the world and I'll be here to help along every step of development.”

Open Bionics, which is based at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, one of the world's leading centers for robotics, hopes to have an affordable robotic prosthetic on the market next year.

Tweet us your thoughts @openbionics

Open Bionics Shortlisted for Tech Awards

TechSparkUK's SPARKies awards celebrate 'the best in west' in the world of technology, engineering, and digital creativity.

This year, judges had to whittle down over 220 nominations for the fourteen categories. The judges said candidates had to show a number of traits including 'digital creativity,' 'big ideas,' and 'ingenuity'.

Open Bionics made the shortlist for two of the categories and is in with a chance to win the 'Best Startup' award and the 'From Chips to...' award (a category that celebrates innovative uses of hardware).

Open Bionics founder, Joel Gibbard, was also shortlisted for the 'Founder / Entrepreneur of the Year' award. Check out the competition here: The Shortlist.

Rumour has it the awards ceremony will be hosted by Bath's leading comedian, Tom Craine.

It has been a good year for Open Bionics. The business has won a number of awards and grants and is currently in the running to win $500,000 from Intel's Make It Wearable competition.

If you want to receive the latest news (& videos of awesome robot hands) from Open Bionics sign up for our newsletter at the top of the page!

Limbcare Backs Open Bionics

A leading organisation for amputees has thrown their weight behind the work at Open Bionics.

Limbcare is a charity set-up by quadruple amputee Ray Edwards MBE, who lost his limbs after contracting septicemia.

The organisation offers hope, guidance, advice and peer support to those with limb differences and those around them.

Joel recently met with Ray and his team to discuss the future of prosthetics and seek his judgement on the latest robotic hand prototypes.

Ray said: “It is just fantastic. This is the future and they're doing it to help people. We're right behind them and we're incredibly happy to support their work. This technology is going to change lives. It's going to help so many people. 3D printing hands is a brilliant idea.”

Ray is an unstoppable force of nature and has offered to put the latest robotic prosthetics through rigorous testing. He said he particularly enjoyed how Open Bionics is making their hands light-weight and low cost.

Ray is an advocate for amputee awareness and spends much of his time around the country educating people about what it means to be an amputee.

Joel said he couldn't think of  better a better person to test his prototypes.

A New Era for Prosthetics

This is Hayley. She's one of the first people in the UK to be fitted with a prosthetic hand that has been created with a commercially available desktop 3D printer and made for around £30. The organization behind the designs of this hand is called e-Nable and they facilitate matches between children with upper limb differences and 3D printer owners. In this way, they have created a distributed network of micro-manufacturing plants and operators to help kids get the prosthetics they deserve. I'm sure you'll agree it's an incredible achievement and an admirable cause.

Photo Credit: bbc.co.uk

Photo Credit: bbc.co.uk

I recently had the honor of meeting the people behind this charity, they're all volunteers and do everything from maintaining the designs and the website, to matching amputees and makers and even handling the overwhelming amount of press they've received through all of their incredible work. It was humbling to see how much of a difference these e-Nable hands can make to a childs life. The kids receive these hands with so much enthusiasm and joy, and besides the function there are huge psychological and physical benefits to using these hands. Jorge Zuniga from the Creighton University told me about how through his research, he has discovered that using one of these devices can increase childrens' muscle tissue. Kids even become more confident wearing these hands and this helps them to embrace and celebrate their limb differences.

I've been working on creating a robotic prosthetic hand for amputees. I want to create something that is highly functional, custom fitted, light weight and beautiful to look at but most importantly, incredibly low cost. Through the Open Hand Project I've managed to create highly functional, 3D printed robotic hands and this has proved that it's possible to do.

At Open Bionics we've created a new type of robotic hand, one that's 3D printed in a single part, requiring very little assembly. It's finding its niche in the robotics market now and has the potential to offer a completely new level of benefit to amputees in terms of robustness, weight and dexterity.

Now our ambitions are set even higher. We want to change the status quo of the prosthetics industry. Instead of long waits, bulky prosthetics, and costly fitting consultations, we want to create sleek, lightweight prosthetics that use millimeter-perfect 3D scanning and 3D printing for the perfect fit. We want to build on the work from people like those at e-Nable, keeping all of our prosthetics open-source for anyone to build on even further. We want children to have new options that they've never had in the past, to have prosthetics that match or even exceed the abilities of their human counterparts.

This is an exciting time for all of us, 3D printing is transforming the prosthetic and medical industry and enabling us to grant greater freedom for amputees.

We want you to join us on our journey! Keep up to date with this blog for news, developments, and tutorials about 3D printing our robotic hands or follow @openbionics on twitter for more frequent updates!