Joshua Graf, NIT Northern Institute of Technology Management Class 15, had an idea. Inspired by his family’s experience with outpatient home care for their grandmother, he is developing an aid appliance for everyday use with people in need of care. Together with two fellow-students, Paula Segelken and Johannes Dörr, the student is working on a new kind of multifunctional care chair, the Karon.
The figures the student team has researched show that a multifunctional care chair has a future. There are now nearly three million people who require care in Germany. Many of them are immobile and rely on help from family members or professional care workers. The carers are subjected to a high level of physical strain. The consequences for society include time lost due to illness and an enormous amount of economic damage.
Joshua Graf and his fellow-students are trying to deal with these challenges. The multifunctional care chair that the NIT students are developing as part of Professor Thomas J. C. Matzen’s Business Planning seminar in the Entrepreneurial Management specialization, is intended to make home care easier for family members and care workers. Joshua, who is studying for a double degree in engineering at Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) and technology management at NIT, had the idea when his grandmother had dementia and his grandfather was caring for her. “My grandmother was immobile at an early stage with the result that my grandfather often had to carry her. Sooner or later we could no longer cope at home so my grandmother had to move to a care home. If the physical burden had been less, my grandfather would have been able to look after at home for longer.”
In order to take the requirements of the target market into account in the design and development of the Karon, the students visited care homes, interviewed care workers and held workshops. In April the concept was finalized. “With the Karon we mainly wanted to solve the problem of the physical strain that care involves,” Joshua says. The care chair differs from conventional care chairs and wheelchairs by virtue of various modifications.
The 26-year-old and his team received advice on developing their product from TUHH’s Startup Dock. The students developed the business idea that lies behind the product continuously together with academic staff and coaches in the Entrepreneurial Management track at NIT. Other supporters, including foundations, provided initial financial assistance to take forward the development of a prototype that is to go into production in the fall.