When Patrick Hennessey and his fellow Dalhousie mechanical engineering students presented their final project before graduation, they likely had no idea it would one day save a priceless Blue Jays championship ring.
But they developed their project into a company, Dartmouth-based Ring Rescue, and its technology has saved the World Series ring and others from swollen ring fingers.
Ring Rescue’s simple technology uses air pressure to shrink the swelling in a finger, allowing rings to slide off easily with the addition of a simple water-soluble lubricant. It means no cutting is required so precious rings can be saved.
Hennessey, the company’s CTO, and CEO Kevin Spencer recently sold their first run of 300 units of Ring Rescue in only three weeks and are now gearing up to manufacture 1,000 more units. The device has attained Class 1 approval from Health Canada and has also been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for American distribution.
“What this technology represents is a chance to take an idea developed and commercialized in Nova Scotia to the world,” said Hennessey in an interview. “We’re really excited to be changing the standard of care for this type of ailment across the world, and we believe that we have benefitted tremendously from the ecosystem here of mentors and other businesses who have helped us along the way.”
The company received some private investment and support from such government groups as the National Research Council and Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. It is now transitioning away from government funding to generating revenue through sales to the medical and jewelry sectors.
Recently, the company gained media exposure when its product was used to save a Blue Jays championship ring. A patient in Toronto – who can’t be identified due to doctor-patient confidentiality – needed this priceless ring removed before surgery. Dr. John Haverstock—a former classmate of Spencer—contacted his old friend for help. After Ring Rescue shipped its product to Ontario, the ring was removed successfully and harmlessly.
Ramping up its manufacturing, Ring Rescue is targeting sales to hospitals, urgent care centres and jewelers. With strong prospects in the medical sector, the company is also working with medical distributors Medline, Owens & Minor and McKesson which collectively supply a majority of Canadian and American hospitals.
Spencer and Hennessey maintain a staff of four to five full-time employees, as well as some part-time and contract workers. The founders believe the company’s success showcases Nova Scotia’s positive environment for startups. They also hope their experience – especially in regulatory approval – can help other Nova Scotian startups.
Spencer said all the knowledge is “easily translatable to other aspects of our local economy and I think that really is important—to figure that out locally, and use that as a template not only for this company but for future ones as well.”