NOVEMBER 3, 2020 — A UTSA alum is taking a big step toward being a major disrupter in the bionic prosthetic industry. Ryan Saavedra ’20 is founder and CEO of start-up Alt-Bionics. His company just sent distributed investor packets nationwide looking to raise necessary funds to take the operation to the next level.
“I’ve been bootstrapping this endeavor for about seven months. Our engineers actually have a wish list that I can’t grant on my own right now,” said Saavedra. “Once we get funding, the first six months will focus on research and development and getting the necessary certifications.”
Alt-Bionics stemmed from Saavedra’s experience as an electrical engineering student at UTSA. He wasn’t certain where his education would take him until he learned more about robotic prosthetic devices and the very expensive prices they command.
“The engineering just doesn’t back up the pricing of these devices. We spoke with one patient who paid $89,000 for their bionic prosthetic,” Saavedra said.
This inspired Saavedra to build a robotic hand for UTSA’s Tech Symposium, the annual competition for students to showcase their design and engineering skills. Saavedra and his teammates set out to prove they could build an effective robotic hand for only $700—a fraction of the nearly six-figure price tag of many robotic prosthetics on the market today.
The team used an open-source robotics design as the foundation and modified it to meet their vision. A second-place finish at the Tech Symposium gave Saavedra the confidence he could develop a successful business model around his approach. However, he gained a passion for starting this business when he watched a military veteran who’d lost his hand in service put the robotic prosthetic to use.
“That was really overwhelming. His whole family was there. It was super motivational to see this project actually work and provide someone with value and a smile,” Saavedra said. “It was just a huge motivation to keep going after college.”
Alt-Bionics devices also incorporate haptics, which gives the user a real-time interaction experience. Artificial intelligence is also built in to help make devices more intuitive for the user. Initially Alt-Bionics will focus on manufacturing bionic hands for below-elbow amputations or congenital disorders. Later the company plans to expand to other areas of prosthetics. Their target pricing is between $3,500 and $5,000.
“We have two large overarching goals for our company,” said Saavedra. “The first goal is to bring these devices to market at an affordable cost while maintaining a durable and robust design. The secondary goal is to keep trying to disrupt the pricing methods that are currently surrounding the artificial limbs market.”
With an impactful product, defined target market and price penetration strategy in place, Alt-Bionics feels it’s attractive to a wide range of investors. It’s another inspiring story of a UTSA alumnus leveraging education to make a positive difference in our world.
“I owe a lot to my education at UTSA. My senior design class really helped, along with establishing relationships at the university, including with my Tech Symposium team,” said Saavedra. “I’m looking forward to giving back to UTSA after Alt-Bionics is fully operational.”
Interested in wellbeing programs, events and resources? Every Wednesday at noon you can stop by virtually and ask any questions you may have about Student Health Services, Counseling and Mental Health Services, and the PEACE office.Virtual Event
Floor captains play a critical role in emergency preparedness, safety awareness and crime prevention techniques throughout the university. They focus on safety and security initiatives while providing guidance and direction to building occupants. During emergency activations, they assist with required evacuations and reentry, shelter-in-place commands, interface with police and other first responders, and help those who may require assistancer.MyTraining Webinar
Roadrunners who plan to learn, teach, live, work or research at UTSA this summer are invited to attend one of these town halls where members of UTSA's Public Health Task Force will share updates from their recently released 4.0 report. The town halls will be a terrific opportunity to ask questions and learn more about summer campus operations.Virtual Event
Honors College students will be presented with their stoles to wear to Commencement. The Honors College provides stoles only to students who are eligible to graduate with honors.Retama Auditorium
Victory celebrations in San Antonio always include honking car horns, and we are carrying that tradition over to UTSA. If you are in San Antonio, join us for a nostalgic Commencement Drive around the Main Campus. This new tradition began in May 2020 and will begin at the Brackenridge (BK 5) parking lot adjacent to the Child Development Center. Vehicles can begin gathering at 5:00 p.m. The parade begins at 5:30 p.m.Brackenridge (BK 5) parking lot, Main Campus
In person ceremony for students recieving their doctorate degrees.H-E-B Student Union Ballroom, Main Campus
In person ceremoney for University College students.Retama Auditorium, Main Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.
UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.
The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.