Pitt Signs First License With Company Including Retired Steeler Charlie Batch

Issue Date: 
February 15, 2016

A company that includes businessman, philanthropist, and retired Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch has completed its first license for technology developed at the University of Pittsburgh.

Impellia, an injury-prevention, human-performance, and rehabilitation-focused technology company, signed the license for PIVOT, a software platform developed by researchers at UPMC Sports Medicine. PIVOT noninvasively quantifies the stability of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee and classifies the degree of injury. PIVOT can be used both as a presurgical diagnostic tool for orthopaedic surgeons and as a tool for physical therapists to monitor patients during the rehabilitation process.

“We are thrilled that our PIVOT technology will be made widely available to doctors, physical therapists, and athletic trainers,” said Volker Musahl, a Pitt professor of orthopaedic surgery and of bioengineering.  “As both a clinician and a researcher, it is gratifying to know that our work will benefit not only elite athletes but also the general population, providing for a more accurate diagnosis of ACL injuries and a more rapid recovery from ACL surgery. We are grateful to Charlie Batch and the rest of the Impellia team, and to the Pitt Innovation Institute for bringing us together and guiding us through the commercialization process,” added Musahl, who is also medical director of the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

In addition to PIVOT, Impellia signed options for two other Pitt-developed technologies last year. Announcements on completed license agreements are expected in the coming weeks, including a Pitt-developed joint-function monitoring tool, and Impellia will continue to explore opportunities to license more Pitt technologies.

“It is important to have partners like Charlie Batch and Impellia who have a strong understanding of the needs of the marketplace to help translate our discoveries into products and services that make a difference in people’s lives,” said Freddie Fu, chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and the David Silver Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Pitt School of Medicine. He is also  head team physician for the Pitt Department of Athletics, who also helped develop PIVOT.

Impellia first approached the Pitt Innovation Institute two years ago, curious about Pitt technologies in the sports-medicine and rehabilitation arena. The Innovation Institute connects Pitt faculty and students interested in pursuing commercial opportunities related to their research discoveries with external partners interested in licensing Pitt innovations or forming new companies around them. Innovation Institute staff arranged presentations to the Impellia group by the Pitt innovators whose technologies the company wanted to explore.

“We are extremely excited about the market potential of PIVOT and are honored to be working with Dr. Fu and Dr. Musahl,” said Batch. “Through our team’s growth-oriented approach, extensive domain expertise, and sales network, we have the means to build a broad platform for the technology. We are thrilled that the Innovation Institute has recognized our ability to execute significant marketing strategies and bring real-world applications to its technologies.”

Development of PIVOT technology was supported by the Coulter Translational Research Partners II Program, a partnership between the Pitt Department of Bioengineering in the Swanson School of Engineering, School of Medicine, and Innovation Institute.

Impellia partners with universities from across the country to commercialize and market researcher-developed injury-prevention, human-performance, and rehabilitation technologies designed to improve the fitness of everyday people and performance of elite athletes. With Batch, cofounders of Impellia include Richard Walker, a former attorney and marketing executive, and Dave Morin, a health care technology entrepreneur and international speaker on health care technology.

“We look forward to continuing the mutually beneficial relationship between Pitt and Impellia. Our faculty and students are continually making discoveries that have tremendous potential to benefit society. It’s through connecting their work with commercial partners like Impellia that Pitt is making a difference not only in improving people’s lives but also in continuing to strengthen the regional economy through job creation,” said Marc Malandro, associate vice chancellor for technology management  and commercialization and founding director of the Innovation Institute at the University of Pittsburgh.