HURLEYVILLE — A new donation will help The Center for Discovery expand research at its technology incubator to make those with disabilities more mobile, following the recent creation of an innovative wheelchair gadget.
American Portfolios Financial Services, Inc., a Holbrook, N.Y., brokerage firm, on Thursday made a five-year, $500,000 gift to the Center’s Technology Hub and Incubator in Hurleyville.
The Center for Discovery is internationally known as a caregiver and researcher for individuals with complex developmental disabilities.
The brokerage firm's gift to the Center’s incubator follows its recent invention, just two-and-half-years after the incubator’s founding, of a device that’s attracting nationwide attention.
The Center is currently finalizing a deal with 10XBeta in Brooklyn to manufacture the indieGo, a power mobility tool that turns almost any manual wheelchair into a power wheelchair.
The 45-pound device attaches to a wheelchair’s bottom and an arm provides a joystick for users to steer. It’s expected to retail for around $4,500, potentially halving the price for those seeking motorized wheelchairs that can cost $8,000 or more.
The Center for Discovery will receive part of the sales revenue from each indieGo, technology that Google has sunk more than $1.1 million into. The Center’s leaders say companies have begun expressing interest in using the technology, which could have other applications such as helping move people at airports.
“This is about the right to move,” said Patrick Dollard, the Center’s president and CEO. “We want to create more things, just like indieGo — things that are going to change people’s lives by giving them the freedom to move.”
Following Thursday's recent donation, the Center’s Technology Hub and Incubator will be renamed the American Portfolios Assistive Technology Lab.
It’s part of a Hurleyville complex that includes the Walter and Vera Scherr Maker’s Lab, where artisans create pottery and other handicrafts; the Digital Design Lab, with 3D printing and computer-assisted design; the Discovery Lab, with science classes for children, research and experiments; and the Digital Media Lab, with features like video production.
Center staff use the site to conduct research, teach and help those with disabilities operate as functional, independent adults.
In a statement, American Portfolios’ CEO Lon Dolber said that working with the Center has had a positive, transformative effect on him and his staff.
“AP is honored to be a part of another transformative endeavor,” Dolber said.
The Center for Discovery, Sullivan County's largest employer, is currently expanding to 2,000 employees from 1,600. It's spending $20 million to convert the former Frontier Building in the Town of Thompson into a sub-acute children's hospital, education and research space for those with disabilities by 2020.