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November 20, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Winter Innovations secures a large federal grant

It's a one million dollar Small Business Innovation Research award from the National Science Foundation.

Less than two months after announcing its fully subscribed seed funding round (see article here), Winter Innovations Inc. has more good news to share.

The Knoxville-based medical device start-up has been awarded a one million dollars Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) from the National Science Foundation (NSF). This grant represents a significant milestone in the development of Winter Innovations’ novel two-part suturing device, known as the EasyWhip®, for orthopedic ligament and tendon surgical procedures.

Orthopedic soft tissue surgery relies on precise stitching techniques for successful outcomes, but it faces challenges, with 7.5 percent of surgeries requiring revision due to graft or stitching issues. Winter Innovations’ innovative two-part needle device has shown strong results during bench testing on cadaveric ACL grafts from the company’s successful $256,000 Phase I NSF SBIR project in 2022. Results included reducing failures from tissue damage by 65 percent and procedure stitching time by 30 percent when compared to conventional needles and stitch methods.

Led by co-founders Lia Winter and Preston Dishner, the Winter Innovations team will utilize the Phase II grant to build upon achievements of the Phase I project. Their goals are to optimize the existing two-part needle, demonstrate its superiority in various anatomies and procedures, and develop new embodiments to enable wider adoption.

“We are honored to secure the highly competitive Phase II grant,” Winter said. “This grant represents an incredible opportunity for our upcoming research and development efforts and the enduring success of our company. The National Science Foundation has provided us with a remarkable opportunity to effect positive change within the orthopedics industry through research, development, and commercialization of our technology. We are committed to leveraging this grant to drive meaningful progress in orthopedic surgery.”

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