Christopher Miranda, head engineer and co-founder, UP: The Elevating Wheelchair Founded: 2013 Number of employees: 4
Professional background: I am a recent graduate of the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering at ASU with a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Biomedical Engineering. In addition to working towards the development of UP, I am also currently pursuing a master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering. Back-story: UP began as part of a year-long product development course at Arizona State University called InnovationSpace. InnovationSpace brings together faculty and students from the schools of design, engineering, and business to work together in an effort to make a positive impact on the world through innovative products. With the help of the amazing faculty and sponsors, we got a glimpse into what life in a wheelchair is really like and discovered many unsolved problems in the wheelchair community. My team and I realized that the lack of height and reach afforded to wheelchair users is an issue that has been largely underestimated. We decided to focus on this issue in order to create a positive impact on these people’s lives. After many months of hard work, budgeting and building a prototype, we noticed that UP was truly unique. We had wheelchair users assure us that it would help improve their lives. It was a relatively easy process for us to transition UP into an actual start-up company because we had already treated the development of the product as a potential startup through our coursework in the InnovationSpace program.
Important business milestones: The invention of UP and the advances we have made in its development. When we built our prototype, I was in awe of the
PHOTO CREDIT: COURTESY OF CHRISTOPHER MIRANDA
Elevator pitch: UP seeks to re-establish normalcy and social equity for manual wheelchair users who are burdened with less height in a society designed to accommodate their ablebodied counterparts. UP is a unique elevating manual wheelchair that functions on the same principle as the common office chair. It will be available for sale to paraplegic manual wheelchair users who desire extra height in order to speak with others at eye level and reach items that would typically be beyond arm length.
UP co-founders (left to right): Christopher Miranda, Andrew Lai (at standing height although he is sitting in the prototype of the UP wheelchair), Peter Georgiou and Rachel Bone
fact that there was nothing else on the planet like it. Earlier this year, we submitted a patent application for UP; as a young engineer, it is motivating and thrilling to be on the verge of receiving a patent for something I helped create.
Next business goal: We are in the process of designing the second prototype of our elevating wheelchair with the guidance of actual wheelchair users. Our goal is to incorporate the same functionality and convenience users get from conventional wheelchairs with UP’s unique elevating function. Once we have designed the new prototype, we will build a few full-size chairs for beta testing. We plan to ask potential users of our product to test it and provide feedback. In June, we received a generous grant from the highly competitive Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative at Arizona State University. The Edson program is also providing us with mentorship in areas vital to developing our product, including incorporation, manufacturing, and insurance coverage and certification. Moreover, they have also provided us with free office space that is currently serving as our headquarters, where all the development of our invention takes place. Company website: upwheelchair.com
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¡ December 2013!
Latino Perspectives Magazine