During a discussion at the end of their children’s school day, Jérôme (a polyamputee) and Benjamin (an engineer at Airbus) realized that together they could launch an exciting project. Jérôme’s problem is the following: improving accessibility to sports for people with disabilities. Benjamin launches the project via Airbus Humanity Lab and proposes it to engineering students from IMT Mines Albi. The 6 students from Mines decided to analyze the needs, to carry out workshops with specialists to define a first axis to work on. Running is a complex subject for people with lower limb amputations. The cost of a blade, between 4 000 € and 8000€ , not reimbursed, does not allow people to equip themselves.
The first two prototypes allowed the students to win the jury’s “coup de coeur” award at the Mines’ovactions innovation contest. Proud of this achievement, they decided to continue in their free time to develop adapted and accessible solutions, and gathered various partners to continue developing the project. Airbus, Salomon, EDF, Décathlon, the 3Dx lab of Dassault Systèmes, I-Run and the Occitanie region joined the movement. The technological incubator of IMT Mines Albi and the Clément Ader Institute decided to support them in their approach.
On February 13, 2021, the first blade test day took place on their land in Albi, in the south of France. About 15 people were able to test the blade. For the first time since his amputation Hugo could run! An emotional moment that crowns more than a year of work on their free time to develop the product.
The project initially named LISA “Lame innovante sportive accessible” becomes HOPPER®. A more global project, federating around strong values. HOPPER® comes from “Hopper grass”, a being personifying agility and nature. The student project became a company, founded by the entire initial team, with a common objective: to make sport and mobility accessible to everyone around the world. Their first solution: the accessible racing blade which will be available in spring 2022 in France and Europe.