Prosthetic Covers for Amputees Globally

How three alumni are using cloud-based technology to bring personalized prosthetic covers to amputees around the globe.

Austin Peppel ’15 and Winston Frazer ’16

When Winston Frazer ’16 (Painting B.F.A.) was a junior at MICA, his experience during a Summer Travel Intensive to the island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe brought his future into focus.

"I met a lot of amputees in São Tomé and Príncipe and their attitude toward life was unlike that of amputees I met in the U.S. They were amazing and tough and happy, and that mindset is what I'm trying to give amputees around the world through Danae Prosthetics."

Frazer liked to experiment with media and had "a lot of different ideas about what I could do" as a student. By his junior year, he knew he wanted to pursue something in the scientific field and merge that interest with his fine arts abilities. And it was the trip to São Tomé and Príncipe that helped inspire his idea to use 3-D technology to provide artistically crafted prosthetic covers to amputees.

"When creative and scientific approaches come together, you create more - the outcome is just going to be better," he said said. "That's why I wanted to create a company that has those two ways of working come together."

He began pursing that idea as his senior's thesis, after his graduation, Frazer teamed with fellow MICA alumni Austin Peppel ’15 (Environmental Design B.F.A.) and Andrew Copeland ’13 (Graphic Design) to continue development of the concept. Though the trio didn’t purse the same degree path, MICA’s campus still pulled them together. Frazer met Peppel through work in the College’s D-Fab Lab, and he bonded with Copeland during a joint summer internship in Atlanta with celebrity photographer and MICA alumnus Derek Blanks ’00 (Illustration B.F.A). Each had a similar worldview and also agreed on the kind of technological future they wanted to support. 

In 2016, they launched Danae Prosthetics – named after the mother of Perseus in Greek Mythology – with the goal of offering affordable, customized 3-D printed prosthetic covers to lower-limb amputees worldwide through a cloud-based application. A year after the company’s founding, Danae secured $25,000 in funding through MICA’s UP/Start Venture Competition, and in the past year, their fortunes have soared. 

Danae was part of the first West Baltimore cohort of Conscious Venture Lab, an early stage business accelerator that works to help entrepreneurs build companies with societal purpose at their core. It was named one of the Top 10 Startups in Baltimore by Baltimore, and was one of 10 firms selected by the Maryland Department of Commerce to participate in their booth at Arab Health 2018, the largest gathering of healthcare and trade professionals in the Middle East.

“It was a phenomenal learning experience. Participating really helped us grasp how vast the prosthetic market is and our potential as a small company to grow exponentially by serving the amputee community worldwide,” Copeland said when recounting the team’s experience at the trade fair, which was held in Dubai this year. 

Frazer agreed, saying, others.“Not only did we gain access to the Middle Eastern medical market, but the global market as well,”

Danae currently operates out of a renovated warehouse in Baltimore’s Pigtown neighborhood where they sublet space from Harbor Designs and Manufacturing, a firm that works with innovative companies to develop new products. As they prepare to begin selling prosthetic covers in late fall 2018, the team there is busy – they have partnered with Dankmeyer Inc., a prosthetics and orthotics manufacturer in Baltimore, on a pilot program with amputees who are assisting with beta testing Danae’s products. In addition, they’re working on final development of the online app that will allow amputees around the world to create personalized prosthetic covers.

“We’ve had back-to-back opportunities which made it able for us to make Danae present here. That’s the biggest thing about being in Baltimore,” Frazier said. “If you’re able to go out and network, opportunities arise.”