This Knoxville-based startup is combating hand pain…one pair of gloves at a time

Whether you’re typing out emails, working out, or driving, hand issues can seriously impact your quality of life. 

Téa Phillips was a mechanical engineering student at Tennessee Tech University and president of the Innovation in Healthcare Club on campus when she and a team of other students started thinking about medical device solutions for arthritis, stiff joints, tendinitis, poor circulation, and generalized hand pain.

What they came up with was MetaFlex Therapy Gloves, a pair of compression and grip strengthening gloves designed to reduce hand pain, swelling, and stiffness. 

Phillips told Hypepotamus that the gloves are constructed to “mimic tendons and follow the natural movement of the hand…since we’ve put [them] on people, they’re loving it.” 

The company started taking pre-orders in early December 2022. Phillips said customers are cross generational, including people in their 20s to people well into their 60s. That showcases just how prevalent hand pain issues really are. 

“We are able to do something so simple and make such a big impact,” Phillips added. 

MetaFlex Therapy Gloves are the first product launched under ATS Innovations, a Knoxville, Tennessee-based startup looking to bring affordable and effective medical innovations to market.  

Mainly bootstrapped to date, ATS brought in money for its initial product launch through local pitch competitions and key advisors. 

The team has taken home prizes at pitch competitions like the Eagle Works Pitch Competition at Tennessee Tech, the 36|86 Student Pitch Competition in Nashville, and the World Business Angel’s Investment Forum in Miami.  

MetaFlex gloves are currently available online, though expanding beyond the ecommerce space is top of mind for Phillips. She envisions a time in the not so distant future where gloves can be picked up at corner stores, local pharmacies, and through medical device suppliers. 

Moving into 2023, the ATS team is focused on funding and getting started on clinical trials to showcase the glove’s effectiveness for those with arthritis and people after a stroke or specific hand surgeries.

MetaFlex Gloves and ATS Solutions is looking to build on the strong medical device industry already in place in the Southeast region of the US. Close to 700 medical device companies have been founded in the region since 2008, according to available Crunchbase data. That is on top of the thousands of scaling startups in the wider medical and personalized health space that also call the Southeast home.

Some other startups to watch in the space include (Orlando, Florida), Validic (Durham, North Carolina), and SweetBio (Memphis, Tennessee). 

Much of that innovation is stemming from the Southeast’s university systems. From Emory/Georgia Tech to UNC to UAB – and Phillips’ alma mater Tennessee Tech – the region’s research schools with strong engineering and medical programs have become biomedical hubs.

Looking to connect further with Phillips and her Tennessee team? Here is where to reach here: 

Téa Phillips LinkedIn

MetaFlex Glove Website