Now even the “crowd” can contribute to a special project: to finance the final prototype of Avanchair, the innovative wheelchair created by Andrea Depalo that allows the transfer of the disabled person to other surfaces (a chair, a sofa, a car seat) in a totally autonomous way.
The crowdfunding campaign has started on Eppela to collect the $156,500 (€130,000) needed to realize the project started about 6 years ago by this 38-year-old from Saronno with disabilities. Anyone can donate something, from five euros upwards, to help realize an all-Italian and highly technological initiative. Alongside Avanchair two major players, Enel and BPM will help to “strengthen” the economic offer, so as to hit the target collection. However, of course, the many small investors called to collect for the occasion will play a major role: “We want to establish lasting relationships with donors – explained Andrea Depalo – so that they can appreciate and contribute to the development of our work with ideas and advice and, why not, even with their own involvement.”
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How Avanchair was born
Avanchair is the brainchild of Depalo, who was initially helped by Emilio Rigolio, a Lombard entrepreneur and craftsman with years of experience in the field of robotics and automation, to create the technological demonstrator of the wheelchair. After a decisive meeting with Ernesto Ciorra, Enel’s Chief Innovability Officer, Avanchair is hosted in Enel X’s pavilion at CES 2020, a major technology trade show held annually in Las Vegas, along with other startups, and the energy company becomes a major supporter of the company. In 2021 the decision to resort to crowdfunding. “Reaching the target,” explains the founder, “will be a confirmation, a kind of test of the project’s liking.
How crowdfunding works for Avanchair
The type chosen to raise funds for Avanchair is technically reward crowdfunding, that is, fundraising based on a financial contribution of the donor in exchange for a “reward”, some form of reward. “But I don’t think people who donate to Avanchair do it to receive a T-shirt, I think there are deeper motivations, such as being able to share with us a worthy action,” says the entrepreneur. The choice fell on Eppela because, the platform is often promoting campaigns in the social field, speaks the same language of the young reality of Lombardy.
How to donate: all the necessary clicks
Starting from May 4, 2021, the date of the beginning of the campaign, those who intend to participate in the fundraising can access the Eppela platform and easily identify the proposal of Avanchair. At that point they can choose to donate freely, starting from a minimum offer of five euros and going up in multiples of five. Each offer entitles you to a small reward: the presence of your name as a donor in the “Wall of Fame”, to a screw, a symbol of those used in the construction of the chair, from a T-shirt to the charging cable that can be donated to those who already have a rechargeable wheelchair, and other awards of greater value. “The fact remains that the real purpose of this collection – emphasizes the creator of the wheelchair – is not so much to be remembered as nice people with good taste in the choice of objects, but to establish a new relationship with those who support us.”
The role of Enel and BPM
The goal, as mentioned, is to reach $156,500 (€130,000) in 40 days. Enel will donate $12,000 (€10,000) for every $6,000 (€5,000) reached, up to a maximum of $60,000 (€50,000). “Alongside our team – recalls Depalo – Enel has been there for a long time, if not forever. For us, what counts above all is being supported by a team of great professionals who have followed us, listened to us, supported us, and are continuing to do so.”
A new support comes from BPM, the bank where Andrea Depalo works: upon reaching $96,000 (€80,000), the institution will pay the remaining amount to reach $156,500 (€130,000).
Why finance Avanchair
Compared to other electric wheelchairs on the market today, Avanchair contains important new elements aimed at supporting users during the activities of daily living. The advantages of the chair can be appreciated in particular in the revolutionary simplification of transfers from the chair to other seats or platforms that users wish to reach. Added to this is the possibility of IoT monitoring of the user’s health, not only to monitor vital signs but also to integrate remote care operations with e-health platforms. “In addition to this – concludes Depalo – with Avanchair we intend to offer the world of people with disabilities a reference point, that is, to become aggregators and developers of everything new that exists in this area.”
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First published in NETWORK DIGITAL 360, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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