Ottobock acquiring fellow exoskeleton maker SuitX

Ottobock’s Paexo Back exoskeleton reduces strain on the back when lifting heavy objects. | Credit: Ottobock

Ottobock and suitX, two exoskeleton developers, are teaming up. Ottobock is acquiring suitX to combine their respective exoskeleton portfolios. Terms of the deal were undisclosed, but Ottobock is acquiring 100% of suitX shares.

Ottobock is a leading developer of prosthetics, orthotics, and exoskeletons. Its Paexo exoskeleton line includes solutions for the back, wrist, thumb, and neck. The suitX portfolio of occupational exoskeletons includes backX, legX, and shoulderX to reduce the risk of injuries among workers. Phoenix is suitX’s lightweight and FDA-approved exoskeleton that allows individuals with spinal cord injuries to be upright and mobile. suitX is also developing a new line of exoskeleton products to support wearers during recreational activities.

suitX is a spinout of the Robotics and Human Engineering Lab at the University of California, Berkeley. It was founded by Dr. Homayoon Kazerooni in 2012. Prior to launching suitX, he founded exoskeleton maker Ekso Bionics in 2005. Ekso went public in 2014.

suitX will become part of Ottobock Bionic Exoskeletons, the company’s division for the development of occupational exoskeletons. The management of Ottobock’s global Bionic Exoskeletons business, which runs under the brand name Paexo, will continue to be handled from Duderstadt, Germany.

“Together with suitX, Ottobock’s exoskeletons business Paexo will become a world leading provider of exoskeletons in production, logistics, servicing, and the trade sector,” said Ottobock CEO Philipp Schulte-Noelle. “We will jointly create significant socio-economic benefits by improving occupational health for employees while reducing sickness absence and treatment costs for companies and healthcare systems. This transaction increases our footprint and network in North America and comes at the perfect time as we expect the market for occupational exoskeleton solutions to grow dynamically in the coming years.”

“This step is a success not only for suitX but also for the University of California, Berkeley, where entrepreneurial endeavors are fostered to their greatest extent for the good of humans worldwide,” said Kazerooni. “I’m looking forward to bringing our technologies to communities internationally with Ottobock for better quality of life. That’s what it is all about, and it makes me very happy.”

“Our exoskeletons offer a huge relief of physical burdens for the workforces in many industrial and logistic workplaces,” said Dr. Soenke Roessing, head of Ottobock Bionic Exoskeletons. “Shortage of skilled labor, an aging workforce, increasing importance of employee safety and injury prevention as well as a growing awareness of injury costs will contribute to the dynamic growth of the market. We expect that recent technological advancements in weight, ergonomic fit and functionalities, paired with increasing affordability will fuel adoption rates in the industry.”

The suitX exoskeleton legX reduces the risk of injuries among workers. | Credit: suitX

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