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Checking in with our epA 2019 winners – a blog series: Nonspec

In this 11-part blog series, we will be checking in with our empowering people. Award (epA) 2019 winners to see what they’ve been up to since our most recent award ceremony in Cairo last July. Check out what’s new with Nonspec!

Below is an interview with Erin Keaney, COO and Co-Founder of Nonspec.

Siemens Stiftung: Firstly, can you explain to your fellow empowering people. Network (epN) members and what you do, where you do it, and, most importantly, why?

Erin: Nonspec makes affordable, adjustable prosthetic limbs for amputees around the world. We do this because clinics don’t have the time and resources to fit the 45 million amputees in need and there is an average of a 2 year wait for amputees to get a limb. We manufacture in the US and are working in India, Rwanda, and the Philippines so far.

On-the-fly adjustment of the company’s adjustable prosthetic pylon on a customer.
Jonathan (right) from Nonspec at the epWorkshop in Cairo.


Siemens Stiftung: More than half a year ago, you were a winner of the empowering people. Award 2019. What has/have been the major change(s) for your company and team since then? For you as an entrepreneur?

Erin: We have met with other prosthetic manufacturers, which confirmed many of our findings about the market space, and are working on maintaining relationships with them. With some of the prize money we have prototyped pieces of our second product and have started to look towards investment to make that happen. In the last month, we have pivoted to helping our community through the covid crisis.

Siemens Stiftung: After your participation in the award ceremony and the empowering people. Workshop, that focused on story telling for social entrepreneurs and peer coaching, have you made any changes to the way you operate? If so, what changes?

Erin: We have utilized some of the peer coaching discussions that we had during the epWorkshop to investigate new sales routes and are working towards building a sales history to be in a position to benefit from working with distributors and fulfilling larger orders.

Siemens Stiftung: What has been your biggest success, personally or professionally, since then?

Erin: Our biggest success has been in light of Covid-19. We had the forethought, skills, and materials on hand to start producing several hundred face shields a day to donate to our local hospitals in need of personal protective equipment (PPE). We have additionally open sourced our design to manufacturers in other countries for them to help their local area as well. We are tracking impact and excited to test our longer-term goal of being able to expand into other mass producible medical devices. 

Siemens Stiftung: What are you working on now? And what are your future plans?

Erin: Now we are focused on the PPE demand and making sure all of our paperwork is in order, website and pitch deck updated, and playing our timeline by ear a little bit. We plan to scale up our first product, compete the prototyping of our second product, and develop strong connections with medical device distributors, non-profits, and governments. 

A behind-the-scenes look at Nonspec’s PPE production process.
The Nonspec team in conversation with fellow epAward 2019 winners as they explain their adjustable prosthetic pylon.


Siemens Stiftung: With your membership, in what way(s) do you hope to benefit from epN? And if applicable, how have you already gained from your connection to the ecosystem?

Erin: We hope to be able to continue the peer discussions with other members especially if we get into challenges that our peers may have gotten through in the past; and we hope to be helpful to others in situations we have gone through. I am excited (once things settle down a bit) to participate in other in-person workshops because beyond the formal discussions, the dinner conversations were always really fun – learning about one another and our experiences really helps remind us that we are not alone in our quests to make the world a nicer place for our respective customer populations.

Siemens Stiftung: Thank you, Erin and team! You are doing wonderful work for many front-line workers in your area – especially in times like these, keep up your commendable work and good luck with your additional endeavors.

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Article last edited on: November 10, 2021