KY SBIR/STTR MATCH AWARDEE: Bennett Gatto

Active Therapy Systems LLC 

Describe your SBIR/STTR project and what your company does or will do? 

Active Therapy Systems is developing technologies that will improve the way people access and receive Physical Therapy treatments for conditions like Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and a variety of memory and cognitive problems. Our solutions will provide in-home daily treatment options and will better connect patients to their doctors and physical therapists, helping them to stay healthier and independent longer. We believe that with the right tools, our patients will be able to engage in the necessary therapies that have been proven to help people remain independent while aging and living with certain conditions without the hassles and burdens that are experienced with current treatment options.  

What is innovative about your SBIR/STTR project? 

Our innovation encompasses the idea of personalized medicine by providing patients with the opportunity to participate in daily therapies that have been specifically tailored to their needs through the remote monitoring of performance and activity metrics. We really put an emphasis on the patient as a whole and have designed our technology to account for the personal characteristics and needs of each patient with the goal of delivering efficient and effective therapy sessions into the home, at the patient’s convenience. If we can reduce even a few of the barriers that limit our patients from receiving the care they need, we believe that we will significantly impact their lives in a positive way.  

What was the greatest challenge you’ve encountered in developing your innovation and/or launching your startup and how did you overcome it? 

One of the greatest challenges that we’ve faced was when COVID-19 immediately impacted our development and as a result, our team’s progress. We were forced to pause development in the office, but the abrupt cancellation of many of the in-person exercise classes around the country provided us with an opportunity to provide for our community that was in dire need of an immediate solution. Working with our team virtually, we developed and launched our first product, Total HealthWorks: an online exercise platform that provides exercise classes, on-demand workouts and virtual personal training sessions for those with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Aging Adults. Our classes can now be accessed by anyone through their TV, computer, phone or tablet and over the past year we have been able to keep people active and socializing with others from their living rooms, helping them to stay safe throughout the pandemic. Check us out and come try a free class at totalhealthworks.com! 

What are you most proud of about your company? 

I am most proud of our team’s commitment to putting our customers first and their perseverance to push forward during adversity. Our mission has always been to help more people and our team proved that over the past year. It would have been easy to succumb to fear and the risks of COVID, but our team stood tall and provided for our community in ways that helped save lives, allowing people to come out stronger on the other side.  

What piece of advice do you have for SBIR/STTR applicants – or – what have you learned that you wish you’d known when pursuing SBIR? 

Throughout my journey and the SBIR process, I’ve learned many lessons about business, building a company, and a lot of things not-to-do. I am still learning every day, but I think for now, the best advice I can give is this: building a cohesive team comprised of the right people is absolutely necessary; know your customer and continue to put your customers first; always surround yourself with people who are more experienced than you so that you can always continue to learn; and, it’s not going to be easy so always remember why you started this journey in the first place.  

What is the most important ingredient or ingredients for a thriving innovation ecosystem? 

I believe that in order for an innovation ecosystem to thrive, there must be multiple facets that all come together to create something bigger and better than what was there before. Innovators and entrepreneurs that are willing to learn and relentlessly pursue innovative solutions to problems must be met by those people, organizations, and institutions that are willing to provide the support and resources necessary to make pursuing the commercialization of those solutions possible.  

What makes Kentucky a great place to pursue SBIR and/or innovate? 

The state of Kentucky is full of wonderful opportunities for innovation and to pursue SBIR funding. There is so much talent available in the area with the number of universities and colleges that are present and those colleges and universities also provide additional start-up resources for entrepreneurs that have really helped a lot of companies get up and running. In addition, the State’s SBIR Matching Funds Program is one-of-a-kind, providing additional capital to companies to further their developments. It is hard to find those types of resources that are made so readily available in this area. For those reasons, I am happy to be here in Lexington and have those resources available.  

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