You may know Charlie Batch from his 15 years in the NFL, where the 41-year-old won two Super Bowl titles with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But what may surprise you is how Batch has transitioned from the football field to the startup world — and how he is teaming up with leading innovators to help people around the globe recover from injuries.
The former Steelers quarterback is the co-founder of Impellia, a new Pittsburgh-based startup that uses innovative research and technology to help make the rehabilitation process more efficient and effective — not just for world-class athletes, but for everyday citizens, too.
The company officially launched earlier this year, announcing its first license for a software platform developed at the University of Pittsburgh called PIVOT that utilizes a tablet to conduct tests for diagnosing anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears.
Batch, who retired in 2012 and also helps run his foundation Best of the Batch, co-founded Impellia with long-time friend Richard Walker and veteran healthcare entrepreneur Dave Morin after the group shared an interest in finding new ways to help people recover from physical injury.
“The team has a unique blend of experience and skill sets, from healthcare technology, software and business operations, to legal and marketing and of course, professional athlete,” Batch told GeekWire. “And, we are each entrepreneurs. We identified sports technology was an emerging industry and at the forefront of innovation. Given our domain expertise and the fact that we have a well established network in sports and healthcare, we thought this represented a very good opportunity to launch Impellia.”
The PIVOT technology uses markers applied around one’s knee that can relay information regarding movement to a mobile app. The idea is to remove risk of human error from the diagnostic process.
Batch said PIVOT was created by “some of the best minds in orthopedics” at the University of Pittsburgh and is something “that has not been seen before.”
“It addresses an injury that has a major impact on sports and athletes at every level,” he noted. “It’s mobile, easy to use, and can be used by trainers, orthopedic surgeons, physical therapist from the moment of injury, through surgery and rehabilitation, which gives it incredible value.”
Impellia also plans to sell other products that were developed at the University of Pittsburgh, including InterAction, a joint function monitoring tool that can be used by patients with a tablet inside their own homes, and Visyter, a “telerehabilitation” software platform that connects doctors and patients over the Internet.
Batch, a Pittsburgh native who is also involved with several other organizations and initiatives, said his five-person team at Impellia has ambitious long-term goals.
“In five years, we see a company that has scaled incredibly,” he said. “We see a vast pipeline of technology that has been identified; we see several new companies under the Impellia umbrella launched and thriving. We see a well-established sales channel and a well-synchronized team that operates an efficient model that can quickly and successfully get products to market. And, if things go as we expect, perhaps we’ll see a few of our companies launched acquired by bigger companies looking to enhance their product offering.”
But it’s not all about revenue or the number of products that his company launches, Batch said. Societal impact is an important measurement of success for Impellia.
“Have we benefited society and impacted lives through job creation, economic development and improved quality of life?” Batch said. “There is innovation that never gets into the hands of the people who need it the most. We hope to change that.”