USM Maryland Momentum Fund Invests $250K in NextStep Robotics

NextStep Robotics is developing a therapeutic device as the first proven treatment to help patients overcome foot drop and gait abnormalities resulting from stroke. 
BALTIMORE, MD. (August 3, 2020) – NextStep Robotics, Inc., an early-stage med-tech company combining proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) software and a wearable device to address foot drop rehabilitation therapy, received a $250K investment from the University System of Maryland (USM) Momentum Fund as part of a $500K bridge round that included the Abell Foundation and University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC; formerly UMUC). The Maryland Momentum Fund previously invested $250K in NextStep Robotics in early 2018.

“A driven and strategic manager, Brad Hennessie, NextStep’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), has made excellent progress on this innovative therapeutic product. Many, including the National Institute of Health National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NIH NINDS) with their $5.4M cooperative agreement, see promise in the technology,” said Claire Broido Johnson, managing director of the Momentum Fund. “The first indication for NextStep’s technology has been addressing foot drop, but other opportunities exist.”

During rehabilitation therapy, patients wear NextStep Robotics’ AMBLE device, allowing the AI-based software component to assess deficits and assign individually optimized training protocols. A patient’s improvements are based on “brain plasticity,” or the ability of the brain to adapt.

NextStep Robotics is pursuing a Class II exempt device pathway as an exercise device with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which will allow in-clinic device use to be reimbursed. In parallel, product trials based on a signed cooperative agreement with NIH NINDS are being conducted to support claims that an increase in ankle control, walking speed and safety, and proper foot landing (heel first) would prove durable reversal of foot drop. If successful, these trials will allow NextStep to apply for FDA Class II therapeutic device designation via the 510k pathway. Once the technology receives FDA designations for foot drop, its application for other disabilities, permanent and temporary, will be considered, expanding the market.

“We are pleased to see continued support from the Maryland Momentum Fund,” said Hennessie. “Our plan will first establish AMBLE as the “standard of care” for foot drop, but we see great potential to develop other devices that, combined with our AI-software, will be able to address other disabilities.”

"We are pleased to join the University System of Maryland and its Momentum Fund in support of Next Step Robotics and the exciting, breakthrough technologies it is developing to help stroke victims and others walk without assistance," said Javier Miyares, president of University of Maryland Global Campus. "Brad Hennessie--CEO of Next Step Robotics--is a UMGC alumnus, and it is always gratifying to see our graduates using their talents and education to make such a tangible, positive impact on people's lives. We are deeply proud of Mr. Hennessie and delighted by this opportunity to support his company and its future success."

NextStep Robotics was founded in 2017 by Brad Hennessie, MHA, MBA, a graduate of Towson University and UMGC. Anindo Roy, MPhil, PhD, former associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM), joined as the full time Chief Technology Officer in 2019. Since the Momentum Fund’s 2018 investment, the company has established partnerships and strong relationships with industry leaders including Biodex Medical Systems and Simbex, secured a $5.4M NIH NINDS cooperative agreement with NextStep as the principal investigator leading research efforts, and created a path for the technology to be reimbursed with existing Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes.

“While NextStep is based on intellectual property licensed from University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), it is a wonderful example of the collaborative research potential within the USM. Research was conducted at the UMSOM, the Baltimore Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, and the A. James Clark College of Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP).” said James L. Hughes, senior vice president chief enterprise and economic development officer for UMB. “The ability to combine all of the unique capabilities of our institutions gives UMB, and partners such as NextStep, leverage in developing and commercializing promising technologies.”

The USM Maryland Momentum Fund provides investment for promising technology ventures born out of USM’s 12 institutions. The Momentum Fund helps early stage companies move beyond grant funding and early stage seed investors to position themselves for commercial launch or to reinforce commercialization at the early revenue stage. The Momentum Fund is continuing to invest in companies affiliated with the USM despite the COVID-19 pandemic and encourages applications through the Fund website at
About the USM Momentum Fund 
The Maryland Momentum Fund is an initiative of the University System of Maryland (USM) to provide late seed investment funding for promising technology ventures that come out of any of the 12 constituent USM institutions, its research parks, and its students, faculty, or graduates. With a $10M commitment from the USM already in place, the Fund co-invests with venture capitalists, foundations, and angel investors. 

The Maryland Momentum Fund, which was established by the USM Board of Regents to support promising commercial opportunities arising from advances in research and intellectual property at USM campuses, has invested in 15 startups to date:  MF Fire, NextStep Robotics, the North American Wave Engine Corporation, Zest Tea, PaverGuide, RetriumVeralox Therapeutics, Gemstone BiotherapeuticsNeoprogen, Minnowtech, ARMR Systems, Infercabuary, Datakwip, pathOtrak, and KaloCyte. The Fund is designed to create returns and support USM’s most innovative ideas as they enter the marketplace. Learn more at 
About NextStep Robotics
NextStep Robotics is a physical therapy technology company that is focused on developing technologies to better assist PT’s in their efforts to provide positive outcomes for their patients. Since its formation around their AMBLE ankle robotic device they have been able to secure substantial financial backing from both private investments and federal grant funding. The NextStep team sees AMBLE as their first of many products and they have already begun early development on an arm training system that has also received Maryland State support through the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program. Their goals are to offer PT clinics a portfolio of technologies to help their patients to discard their current assistive device and regain access to their communities through mobility recovery.

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Contact – Next Step Robotics, Inc.
Brad Hennessie
Phone: 443-756-7541


Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719