Caitlin Sykes

Your Business editor of the NZ Herald

Small business: Commercialising innovation - Mark Finch, I Measure U

Mark Finch is founder and CEO of Auckland-based I Measure U - a developer of body-movement measuring technology.

Mark Finch, founder and CEO of I Measure U.
Mark Finch, founder and CEO of I Measure U.

What is I Measure U all about?

I Measure U has developed a new, innovative way to measure body movement, providing quantifiable, intelligent feedback to the user that will reduce risk of injury, increase performance and amplify success. Our point of difference comes through fusing sensor data with physics-based computational models to provide robust and actionable measurement information related to human body movement.

The company was founded at the end of May 2013 by myself and co-founder Thor Besier. I have spent the past nine years designing sensors and developing expertise in this domain, and Thor has more than 20 years of experience in bioengineering and is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Auckland's Bioengineering Institute. He also spent eight years at Stanford University setting up the Human Performance Lab there.

We hired employee number one back in November - Andrew Wong, a graduate with first class honours in biomedical engineering from the University of Auckland - and are just about to hire employee number two - a systems engineer. We also have another part-time engineer, Vinura, who is currently studying engineering at the University of Auckland.

Can you tell me about the innovation behind the company and how it came about?

The innovation behind the company is coupling the hardware - physical sensors - used to measure motion with mathematical models developed to interpret the data. We are currently developing a running solution that reduces a runner's chance of injury.

The idea came from both my and Thor's expertise combined. When Thor came back to New Zealand and saw what I was doing it was only a matter of time until we combined forces to take on the world!

What is the current focus at the company?

We are currently being incubated at the Icehouse in Parnell, which was part of our prize from winning the University of Auckland's Spark $100K Challenge last year. During our time at the Icehouse we've refined our business model, developed a financial model, and pitch deck. We're also developing a funding plan and have been networking with potential investors and board members.

Our current focus is on the running market, and we won a AU$250,000 contract with Athletics Australia back in March. The first deliverable is to develop a wearable solution for their elite athletes that gives them the tools to better monitor the athlete's workload in order to reduce their risk of injury. We are currently finishing up the development for that product, which should be done in the next two months.

We will then start to commercialise that product for the general consumer. This will give all types of runners the ability to better monitor their training, measure their workload, tell them when they should be running and resting, and offer technique analysis, which are all tools to help reduce the chance of them getting injured.

Commercialising scientific innovation can be a long and challenging process. What have been some of the challenges you've encountered on the journey so far?

Education - both educating the industry, and educating myself about commercialisation. As an engineer and coming from an academic background it was quite difficult trying to get my head around the ideas of 'industry' and 'market'. Being in the Icehouse has been really good because they have a team of people that understand that whole process very well and have been taking us through it step by step.

What is your vision for the future of the company?

Taking over the world in the wearable-tech markets associated with training and injury. We want to develop solutions for all sports that can aid athletes and coaches, providing them with quantifiable and intelligent feedback that will reduce risk of injury, increase performance and amplify success.

Coming up in Small Business: How do small business owners work out an advertising budget, where to spend it and how to judge the return on their investment? If you've got some tips to share from your own business, get in touch: nzhsmallbusiness@gmail.com.

- NZ Herald

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