Class Notes Profiles
Jason Schoen, Eng ’05, doesn’t need to read about business startups. He lived one.
Schoen tinkered for two years, methodically iterating a device to help wheelchair-bound people walk on their own steam. Schoen can’t estimate how many trips he made to the hardware store to piece together a prototype.
“Whatever we could scrap together, we tried,” he says.
That “we” is Schoen and business partner Brian Glaister. Together, they launched Cadence Biomedical in 2007 with the goal of building products to improve people’s lives.
In time, and after the normal fits and starts associated with developing new technologies, their idea for a walking system emerged. After connecting with a researcher at the Cleveland Clinic who provided a mathematical model for a human-powered approach, they designed a device that uses a pulley system to supplement the wearer’s own energy. With grants from the U.S. Army and angel investors, they built a prototype, and a woman who has ALS and hadn’t walked in six years tested it.
“She relied on her husband for stability. We put the prototype on her and she took steps on her own,” Schoen says. “At that moment, we knew we were on the right track.”
Cadence Biomedical released the Kickstart Walking System on the market last year. The exoskeletal device is custom-built for users and worn over clothing. Cadence Biomedical has other projects in the pipeline, including a collaboration with Marquette’s Dr. Gerry Harris as a research partner in developing a spinoff for amputees. See the Kickstart Walking System at cadencebio.com. — Joni Moths Mueller