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The Real Blade Runner: Exporting Advanced Technology Prosthetics
February 01, 2018 Suhail Karim Beg, Business Development Specialist, Office of Small Business

The original Blade Runner movie was released back in 1982, the pre-internet age. It became an instant cult classic and gave audiences a glimpse of what advanced technology might hold in store for humanity in the not too distant future. Cybernetic robots with superior abilities but so human-like they were indistinguishable from flesh and blood. The robots were manufactured by the Tyrell Corporation, a 21st Century mega-commercial conglomerate whose motto was “More Human than Human.”


Ability Dynamics Inc. is a real 21st Century manufacturer of made-to-order prosthetic feet that utilizes advanced technology to provide amputees with superior abilities and, most importantly, an enormously improved quality of life. Based out of Tempe, Arizona, Ability Dynamics was established in 2011 with only three people and an idea; to provide amputees with an innovative prosthetic foot enabling them to actively pursue the lives they love. In 2012 they introduced the RUSH Foot®; a foot capable of handling everything from the everyday end user to the extreme sports junkies. Their unique RUSH Foot design utilizes an aerospace grade glass composite material that is twice as flexible as carbon fiber; the most commonly used prosthetic material. The engineering team incorporated customer feedback in designing a realistic and responsive foot and ankle motion. The superior material and innovative design provides RUSH Foot a smoother natural motion with zero “dead spots”, just like a real foot. The “dead spot” phenomena in prosthetics refers to the braking effect in forward movement that affects gait reducing mobility. The design is truly “Not Just Another Carbon Copy” as their website states. The website lists numerous customer testimonials supporting these claims. Of course, the ultimate testimonial to a product's success is customer demand and sales.


The Exporting Challenge

By 2014 RUSH Foot production had expanded and the company had grown to 27 employees. Though Ability Dynamics is a small company, sales of RUSH Foot had gone global. However, the problem with rapid sales growth is finding the funds to keep on growing. 


The Solution

Ability Dynamics needed coverage for foreign receivables to access funding from Scott Valley Bank, their local lender. Scott Valley Bank referred Ability Dynamics to one of EXIM Banks registered brokers, Ari Global. Ability Dynamics hence obtained an EXIM export credit insurance policy which provided Scott Valley Bank with the nonpayment protection it needed to extend more credit.


The Results

Today, Ability Dynamics exports its products via distributorships in over 27 countries around the world. How does a small U.S. company with 27 employees have such a big international footprint? The answer: the advanced technology and innovation to create a design with flexibility and the financial ability to remain flexible when exporting.


Ability Dynamics became an EXIM Bank customer in October, 2017, and their policy is already helping solve their funding problem and grow their exports. Exports made up 9 percent of total revenue in 2016; today they are at 20 percent. In the words of Ability Dynamics CFO, Jim Edwards;


“Our relationship with EXIM is very important to our future success. With our continuous growth internationally, EXIM has provided us the backing to successfully expand into new markets. Having the support of EXIM for international sales has been a reassurance for our bank to back our sales for foreign trade credit. This relationship has improved our cash flow and cash position, enabling us to continue to grow and expand globally to help others around the world.”


To find out how your small business can grow their international sales, contact EXIM Bank for a free one-on-one consultation with a trade finance expert.

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