With circleg we strive to empower people through freedom of mobility, achieving positive social and environmental impact, while celebrating diversity in all shapes and colours. Our holistic approach focuses on three key areas:
quality prosthetic care
The circleg prosthesis is a modular, functional, aesthetic and affordable prosthetic leg for above- and below-knee amputees. It meets the high-performance requirements of a lower-limb prosthesis while being very lightweight and robust, significantly improving user comfort. The modular design enables individual adjustments, the repair of wear and tear and the replacement of broken components, reducing time and cost for prosthetists and amputees. In addition to the product, we provide training services for prosthetists.
sustainable local model
The circleg prosthesis is designed and produced following the principles of the circular economy. It is made of recyclable materials and mixed with glass fibres, for strength and durability. Broken parts can be exchanged and returned to be transformed into new prosthetics and other products . In this way, we produce quality prostheses while promoting sustainable resource use. The prosthetic is manufactured close to our users, in our regional Hubs. The circleg East African Hub in Kenya will be the first of its kind, responsible for on-site production as well as assembly, to manage the quality and distribution of the circleg prosthetic system in the region.
We are implementing projects and campaigns to empower amputees and decrease the stigma around amputation. The aim is to enable them to live fulfilled lives as active members of society, aware of the resources available to them to simplify their everyday lives. In addition, we wish to develop mechanisms to increase accessibility for prosthetic care both financially and geographically.
The need for appropriate prosthetic technologies
Prosthetic and orthotic care is in dire need worldwide. There are an estimated 65 million people living with lower limb amputations globally, with 1.5 million added each year. By 2050, this global need for prosthetic devices is expected to double. The main reasons for such high amputation rates are the growth of traumatic events such as traffic accidents, vascular diseases like diabetes, and inadequate medical care provision culminating in amputation. The great majority of amputees in low and middle-income countries are left without prosthetic devices, due to the unavailability and unaffordability of local solutions. Without access to such products, many individuals in need are confined to their homes and live dependent, excluded lives, increasing the impact of the impairment and disability on the person, family and society.
— World Health Organization (WHO)
65% of the world’s estimated 65 million amputees reside in low- to middle-income countries, yet only 5-15% of them have access to prosthetic devices, due to the unaffordability of components and overall supply shortage.
– AT2030, Prostheses Product Narrative
Aside from a dire shortage of quality affordable prosthetics, there are extremely limited options of locally produced prosthetics in low- to middle-income countries. Due to this, local hospitals are forced to import components from afar, being subject to long waiting times, inefficient and costly procurements, and logistical challenges.
– AT2030, Prostheses Product Narrative
stigma and discrimination
Individuals in need of prosthetics are often stigmatized and isolated from their communities. Amputation is a sudden and traumatic event, often leading to the immediate loss of employment, community and isolation. Many people in need are not aware of the different resources that are available to support them in their rehabilitation, including prosthetics. In addition, many people cannot geographically nor financially access prosthetic services or rehabilitation treatments.
Thinking in cycles
Environmental sustainability is at the core of what we do. We manufacture the circleg prosthetics locally to shorten the supply chain and decrease our logistics carbon footprint. The prosthesis is modular, so that individual components can be substituted or fixed, without the need to substitute the entire prosthetic. All used parts are collected, to be reinserted into the chain so no materials are thrown away.
Freedom of mobility
The circleg prosthetic allows for regaining independence, self-determined mobility and comfort in daily life activities. Freedom of mobility has strong implications for the amputee’s life, improving their well-being, and empowering them to live an active life. The provision of quality prosthetics has been proven to dramatically increase the quality of life of amputees and their communities, allowing them access to new opportunities, from education, to work and social life.
Design as a catalyser
Circleg began in 2018 as a student project at the Zurich University of the Arts with an interest in social design in combination with the concepts of the circular economy. Over time, the team grew and the idea of circleg developed into an ambitious endeavour with enormous potential for social and ecological change. Find out more in our story.
– We are a Spin-off of the Zurich University of the Arts.
«Social Design at its finest.»
— Hochparterre, Design magazin
«Behind circleg is a dedicated team that works with an interdisciplinary approach in order to make artificial limbs not only modular and reusable, but also available for those who need it the most. With a great social impact, they show innovative spirit in finding new ways of production.»
— Pro Helvetia, the Swiss Arts Council
Design Prize Switzerland 2021
– Winner in the Category Going Circular Economy
No Waste Challenge 2021
– Nomination & Top 10 from 1409 submitted entries
Cybathlon Global Edition 2020
– Winner of the leg prosthesis race
Together we’re better Award 2019
– Winner of the Start-Up Prize by DEZA and SECO
Swiss Student Sustainability Challenge 2018
– Winner of the Challenge
Progress Prize at Dubai Global Grad Show 2018
– Nomination & Top 10 at Progress Prize
Falling Walls Lab Zurich 2018
– Winner of the Falling Walls Lab Zurich
James Dyson Award 2018
– Switzerland’s Winner of the James Dyson Award
Young Researcher & Student Award 2018
– Zurich University of the Arts