Project Chosen for NSF I-Corps Teams Participation

November 10, 2020

The selection process started with submitting a two-page executive summary on the potential commercial market along with an overview of the technology of SideKick™. The team advanced through three rounds of interviews with officers in the NSF I-Corps Teams program and now have been invited to submit a full research proposal in order to join the Spring cohort. The goal of the I-Corps Teams program is to “get out of the lab” and complete 100 interviews with potential users of SideKick™, caregivers, wheelchair manufacturers, and non-profit foundations (mostly by virtual means in the near future) to gauge interest and confirm the needs of potential SideKick™ users, also known as adaptors. The team will log the interview data and then provide weekly updates to the rest of the cohort. At the end of 7 weeks they will present a final report on the results of the interviews which will be judged by an NSF panel who will give a recommendation on the commercial suitability of our device. (


The SideKick™ is an adaptive technology framework that will enable motorized wheelchair users to complete daily living activities in their unique environment - in the classroom, office, laboratory, apartment, etc. The device ( will provide creature comforts (like hydration and electronic device charge points), safety features (backup cameras, lockable storage, and roadside assistance), and functionality (ability to open doors remotely). Most wheelchair designs have focused exclusively on transport, but the goal of SideKick™ is to address unmet needs for daily living activities from the hips up!


 The SideKick™ team is led by Dr. Tye Martin, an ASERT (IRACDA) postdoctoral fellow, who is working with Dr. Heather Canavan on design, development, and fabrication of adaptive biomedical devices. Other members of the team are Veronica “Nika” Mitchell - a graduate student in the Biomedical Engineering program, with a concentration in Engineering Technology Management, Ankit Shah - an undergraduate student double majoring in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering and Susan Cornelius – an entrepreneurial mentor to the UNM Lobo Rainforest I-Corps Site program and official I-Corps Mentor for the SideKick™ project.