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Robotics Maker Ekso Aims to Help Wheelchair-Bound to Walk

Ekso sold 20.5 million units for $1 each in the private placement. Each unit consisted of one share and a five-year warrant to purchase another shares for $2.

Ekso shares, which trade on the OTC Bulletin Board, closed at $2.94 on Thursday, up 44 cents, or 17.6%, that day.

The financing included the conversion of $5 million in bridge debt.

Gottbetter Capital Markets was the placement agent with EDI Financial acting as a sub-agent.

Before the reverse merger and financing, Ekso had only $227,098 in cash as of Sept. 30, according to a filing with the SEC. That was after net losses that totaled $9.09 million in the first nine months of 2013 on $2.51 million in revenue.

Dressed in a tweed sport coat with his tie a bit askew, Harding's cowboy boots clicked as he walked to one end of the two-story industrial space and sidestepped a foosball table, pointing to earlier iterations of the HERC, featuring a camouflage color rather than the industrial black of today's Ekso.

Harding says that another sizeable market for a version of the Ekso is the industrial market. He describes a use for the suit in shipyards where workers need to take finishes off ships and hold heavy equipment over their heads for extended periods of time.

Then there is the home market, the use that has captured the heart of Tamara Mena.

She has been in her wheelchair for eight years, since an accident in her native Mexico where a taxi she was riding in struck a horse, which landed on top of the cab, fracturing Mena's spine and killing her boyfriend. Mena, who is now 25, says she daydreams of the personal-use version of the Ekso that will someday be available.

"Using the Ekso has given me the ability to do something I never saw happening," Mena said. "This has given me a challenge and I have really enjoyed the journey. Emotionally, it gave me the chance to remember how some things felt, looking people in the eyes, hugging. Those are pretty important things."

Also, the Ekso has provided more tangible benefits.

"Since I have been using it, my blood pressure has dropped," Mena said.

Health benefits are common for Ekso users, Harding said.

"As you can imagine, we gather a lot of data and one of the things we have found is that the health of all of those who have a high dosage, have trained heavily on the Ekso, they have improved."

The company may have to be able to argue for the health benefits of its product if it is going to make major in-roads into the home market, as that would require support from health insurers.

"One of the things we always hear from people is that when it comes time to talk with insurance companies about reimbursement, they are not going to want to pay for Eksos," Harding said. "We think they are going to be our best friends. I think if we can show that Ekso users improve their health, they are going to think that if this can help keep people healthier, the insurance companies are going to say, 'I don't want to pay for another urinary tract infection.' It will make sense."

Mena says that right now, she doesn't foresee the Ekso becoming a daily mode of transportation.

"I don't think it would replace the wheelchair, but we are probably several years and several versions away," she said. "I would just look at it as an option and a way for me to get some exercise."

Harding is careful when he talks about the personal version of Ekso. The company can already ship to Europe for personal use, but in the U.S. the Ekso is still under study for home use.

The company hopes that by the time it is ready to ship Eksos for home use, the costs will have dropped. Harding said there is no reason why an Ekso should cost more than a high-end motorcycle. With that in mind, he said the company wants to redesign some of the parts for mass production, and that some costs can be captured by going away from adjustable parts now being used, and instead making more customized parts.

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