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smash-a-ball founders Mexican innovation: founders of Smash-a-Ball.toynews

Mexican start-ups get UK support

Medical monitor, educational toy for visually impaired products of Mexican innovation

Mexican innovation and creativity can be seen in two business start-ups that have been launched with the help of a British government program.

A medical monitoring system called Coremed and an educational toy for the visually impaired called Smash-a-Ball are among 67 new businesses launched since 2013 through the Sirius Program in the United Kingdom, and both have their roots in Mexico.

Coremed is the brainchild of Julio Enrique Guerrero Ontiveros, a 28-year-old Mexican doctor who used to find it irritating to have to check manually a patient’s vital signs again and again. The hospital had a monitor, but only one, so it was only used in critical cases.

Nor did the young doctor see himself as a conventional physician, writing out prescriptions, according to a report last month in the newspaper La Reforma.

Those factors, along with being a fan of technology, helped launch Metix and its product called Coremed, a monitoring device that checks a range of vital signs, tasks that have previously been carried out by using large machines, one for each task. Guerrero’s device is the size of a large cell phone.

Checking vital signs, he says, no longer has to be manual labor carried out by doctors, or nurses, or paramedics. It is portable and connected: with its Internet and satellite connectivity it can be used not just in hospitals but in remote areas.

The founding of Metix followed along with funding and support from UK Trade & Investment, a department of the British government that provides support to British companies. Its Sirius Program has identified high-growth, innovative start-ups and helped them set up shop in the United Kingdom.

Another of those start-ups is Smash-a-ball, another innovation from Mexico, one designed to replace the visual elements of toys and games with something that uses the sense of touch.

Nadia Guevara and Pedro Bori were studying for degrees in educational psychology when they had the same thought: “Wouldn’t it be nice if somebody started to create more fun and educational toys for the visually impaired and blind?”

They went on to develop a prototype, one that could be tested by measuring improvements in body and spatial awareness, memory and reaction rates among visually impaired and blind children.

As the two inventors expected, those skills increased, so they proceeded to develop the project along with a new partner, industrial engineer Bryan Villalobos. Two years ago Smash-a-ball won a national prize of 500,000 pesos in a field of nearly 500 entries in Banco Santander’s annual business innovation awards.

The device is an electronic board game consisting of two consoles. One is a backpack with nine metal cylinders that apply pressure to specific areas of the player’s back to indicate which of nine foam rubber balls the player needs to smash on the second, tabletop console.

Both Metix and Smash-a-Ball are in the process of securing funding: Metix is looking for US $750,000 to manufacture its first 3,000 monitors, which will sell at half the price of those currently available on the market.

Smash-a-Ball is planning a crowdfunding campaign, reports ToyNews magazine, to finance the production of the first 800 units.

Mexico News Daily

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