GRD Innovations – From Winning Idea to Production – A Village of Mentors Helps Grow New Knee Brace Company

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — When Mike Geldart and GRD Innovations won this year’s Annual Cairns Foundation Innovation Challenge for his full-range knee brace – an orthotic that provides full support without limiting mobility – at least five people reached out and asked to be put on a waiting list to buy one.

The 23-year-old Embry-Riddle engineering senior was encouraged by winning the $10,000 prize, and the overwhelming response also propelled him to take advantage of all the help and advice available to move closer to commercialization of his VRA (Varying Radius Assist) Knee Brace.

“Mike has a village in Volusia County helping his company to grow,” said Connie Bernal, Associate Director of the Volusia County Incubator powered by the UCF Business Incubation Program (UCFBIP). “We have built a very strong ecosystem here in our county comprised of the UCFBIP and the Cairns Foundation mentors, PhDs from the Engineering Department at Daytona State College, and funders of local successful companies, who are helping Mike, propel the growth of his venture. Volusia County is becoming a very friendly environment to start a high tech company.”

Geldart has been working on his own over the last three years building multiple prototypes using sheet metal aluminum.  GRD’s patent-pending technology reduces rotational stress on the knee, simultaneously providing lateral support without compromising mobility.

Traditional knee braces – purchased from a drug store, a hospital supply or high-end orthotics store – provide relief only by reducing lateral hyperextension of side-to-side motion of the knee and surrounding ligaments, leaving the normal range of motion unsupported.

Geldart said he is working with a small team of engineers and medical advisors for the research, re-design, development of a production ready VRA Knee Brace model.  GRD has invested in a 3D printer allowing GRD to make most of the parts from a nylon carbon fiber composite.  “Every feature of the device can be 3D printed,” he explained. “The parts can be designed with varying specifications so the braces can be customized.”

From a clinical standpoint, Geldart says, the revolutionary knee brace has proved to be a good concept and since it’s considered a low risk item, it should not require FDA trials and approval.  However, Geldart said he is working on a design for a pre-market study to collect data on the impact of the device as well as any opportunities to improve the design.

The initial batch of 20 knee braces will be used in a pre-market trial.  Participants will be provided with the orthotic for free to wear and provide the company with feedback.  It was easy to find 20 people for the trial, Geldart said, “Many people have knee problems.”

“Typically knee braces are in a low volume high-end product market but we are making the VRA Knee Brace a – high-end product – at a low cost.”

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For more information about this release, please contact:

Mike Geldart, Founder / CEO, GRD Innovations, 304-594-8034

Connie Bernal, Associate Director/Site Manager, Volusia County –University of Central Florida

Business Incubation Program, 386-872-3101,

Beth Payan or Larry Vershel, Larry Vershel Communications, 407-644-4142 or 407-461-3781,

About the Innovation Challenge

The Innovation Challenge is a partnership between the Cairns Foundation, a Florida 501(c)(3) charitable organization, and the Volusia County–UCF Business Incubator.  Its dual goals are to commercialize student innovations and encourage technology start ups in Volusia County.

About The Cairns Foundation

Established by Dr. Jim Cairns in 2003, the Cairns Foundation strives to identify and give life-changing boosts to bright, creative young people who otherwise might never attain their full potential.  To fulfill its mission, the Foundation provides support to outstanding students through mentoring and funding to help the young inventors realize the technical and commercial successes of their creations.

About the UCF Business Incubation Program
The University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program is a community resource that provides early-stage companies with the tools, training and infrastructure to become financially stable, high growth/impact enterprises. Since 1999, this award-winning program has helped over 390 local startup companies reach their potential faster by providing vital business development resources.

With seven facilities throughout the region, the UCF Business Incubation Program is an economic development partnership between the University of Central Florida, the Corridor, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia Counties, and the cities of Apopka, Kissimmee, Orlando and Winter Springs. For the 2014/15 and 2015/16 fiscal years, the activities of these participating firms have helped to sustain more than 4,710 local jobs and have had a cumulative impact of over $725 million on regional GDP and over $1.3 billion on regional sales. During the same period, the program has returned $7.41 in state and local taxes for every $1.00 invested in the program.  For more information, visit