Florida Polytechnic University seniors catapult to entrepreneurial reality

Nov 26, 2019
Florida Polytechnic University seniors catapult to entrepreneurial reality
Florida Polytechnic University seniors River Anderson, left, and Dorian Alberti received a $2,500 micro-grant from Catapult to pursue their development of an exoskeleton to improve back health and efficiency among warehouse and distribution workers.

A pair of Florida Polytechnic University seniors hopes their idea to ease back pain among warehouse and distribution workers improves the health of these critical employees and leads to improvements at major corporations.

The Lumbar Relief Analog Exoskeleton (LRAE) is a device that assists in the repetitive motion of bending and lifting. It stores energy when a user bends and releases it when the person returns to a standing position, easing strain on the wearer.

“Back pain is an epidemic in the workforce and needs to be alleviated,” said Dorian Alberti, a mechanical engineering senior from Madison, Florida. “We are aiming to make changes globally by helping employers allow their companies to become more efficient by optimizing the members that make it run.”

Alberti is working on the project with River Anderson, a senior from Orlando majoring in business analytics. The two presented their idea Nov. 14 at Catapult Lakeland’s Launch Pitch Night, which awarded funding to entrepreneurs pursuing their next big idea.

The LRAE project received a $2,500 micro-grant, which Anderson and Alberti will use to begin prototyping their device.

“Pitching to over 80 people was nerve-wracking to say the least,” Anderson said. “Overall, the entrepreneur environment was excellent and exciting. Catapult helped us whenever we had questions or needed help ironing out our final pitch for the panel.”

November is National Entrepreneurship Month, an apt time for the pair to begin realizing their entrepreneurial dreams.

Justin Heacock, the University’s entrepreneurship coordinator, said that the exoskeleton has the potential to make a big impact across many industries.

“I believe this work from these students is very impressive so far,” Heacock said. “They identified a major gap in the distribution and warehousing market that has a big footprint in Polk County and are using their skillsets to solve it.”

Heacock worked with the students on their early pitch and provided business coaching, supporting them before and during the event.

“This idea could have a high likelihood of success with the amount of potential customers in a 30-minute radius once they get a working prototype,” he added.

Alberti said there is already interest in the device, including the possibility of a collaboration with grocery giant Publix after the device is operational.

Alberti and Anderson soon will be forming a formal business partnership, filing for business licenses, and working to develop LRAE while continuing their passion for innovation.

“Florida Poly has provided a launching ground from which I can move forward with high aspirations and goals to change the world,” Anderson said.

Lydia Guzman
Director of Communications