This story is part of our Inno on the Road series, where we take a look at innovation hubs throughout the Midwest. Check back all week for more coverage on Ann Arbor’s tech and startup scene.
An Ann Arbor startup is helping sports teams use data to help athletes prevent injury and perform at their optimum level, and its founding team might look familiar to football fans.
Impellia, a startup that builds software to help athletes and sports medicine professionals study body movement to prevent injury and improve performance, is co-founded by Charlie Batch, the former quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The startup, which launched in 2015, is also led by serial Ann Arbor entrepreneur Dave Morin, and Rick Walker, a lawyer and business executive.
Impellia’s software works with existing hardware performance trackers, like Catapult and Zebra, and helps trainers monitor how an athlete moves and identify if an athlete is at an increased risk of getting an injury. Its data can show when an athlete’s knees go inward too much when jumping, which can eventually lead to an ACL tear, for example.
This allows sports programs to create tailored workout programs based on a player’s injury risk and performance needs.
“When I played college football, it was one size fits all,” Walker said. “All you guys are doing this work out, whether you need it or not. Well, it doesn’t have to be that way anymore. You can personalize it.”
One of Impellia’s first clients has been the University of Michigan, whose 31 Division 1 sports programs are using the startup’s software across its more than 900 student athletes. Impellia works with around 10 sports programs in total, including professional NBA and NFL teams, though Walker declined to name them specifically.
Rather than focusing on just one area of the body, Impellia has built a suite of eight different products that measure things like gait, joint range of motion and metabolism. One of its main offerings, Prairi, provides red flags for fatigue and injury based on physiological data.
“We can give you risk analysis and give you a holistic view of the athlete—from performance to injury risk,” Walker said.
Impellia is offering its technology to the sports world to start, but the company thinks there’s a lot of room to grow beyond athletics. Workers who do a lot of manual labor, like lifting boxes in a warehouse, could use Impellia to help with injury prevention. The military is another area the company sees as a natural fit for its software.
The company says it’s also exploring partnerships with “large sports companies” that are interested in harnessing Impellia’s data, Walker said.
The company has raised under $200,000 in outside funding to date, and is currently in the process of raising a $2 million seed round.