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Rex Bionics, the New Zealand company that launched a robotic exoskeleton to enable wheelchair users to stand and walk in July this year, has received further TechNZ investment of $1.63 million to build a second version.

The funding from TechNZ, the business investment arm of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, is being matched by the company.

Foundation group manager of manufacturing & high-growth firms Richard Bentley, says it is crucial that innovative firms such as Rex Bionics stay ahead of their competition.

“Sustained and strategic investment will give this very promising company the best chance to maintain market leadership.

“By committing to R&D and matching our funding, Rex Bionics will be able to keep one team on board to work on Rex Version 1 while a new team works exclusively on Rex 2 to get it to the market faster.

“This means Rex Bionics will be ready to leap-frog any competition in the market, with their new version,” Mr Bentley says.

Rex Bionics chief executive officer, Jenny Morel, says the R&D project will further develop and improve on the first version. This has received international recognition for its innovative design and for the life-style and wellbeing benefits it promises for users.

Wheelchair users transfer themselves from their chair into Rex, strap themselves in and control their movements using a joystick and control pad. The robotic exoskeleton is powered by a long-life rechargeable battery and is built entirely at the company’s Auckland premises.

Rex Bionics was awarded TechNZ funding of $1,115,587 in 2008 to build the first Rex version, which it launched in New Zealand on 15 July. The company received earlier TechNZ funding of close to $111,000 in 2007 and has also received significant investment from shareholders, led by No 8 Ventures, over the seven year R&D period.

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