Just as the July 2013 magazine was going to bed, Comstock’s learned that the subject of our cover story, Wijit Inc., had been sold to Kinova USA. Wijit Inc. was the brainchild of Brian Watwood, the one-time elite athlete who was paralyzed in a fateful bike accident. During his rehabilitation, Watwood was inspired to develop a “better wheelchair” using a unique system of levers to propel and steer a wheelchair with greater ease than conventional methods.
Wijit Inc. was aggressively seeking investors when Dan Niccum of Kinova USA acquired the company through a leveraged buyout. Niccum reports that Wijit is now part of Roseville-based Innovations Health Systems (IHS), a family of health care companies focused on delivering technologies and comprehensive care services to the severely disabled and mobility impaired. A division of IHS, Innovations Health Devices (IHD) manufactures and distributes mobility products, including the JACO robotic arm for power wheelchairs and the Wijit lever drive and braking system for manual wheelchairs.
In the 10 months since the acquisition of the Wijit, IHD has commenced its first production of 250 Wijits for U.S. distribution at its Roseville operation. It won an international contract to manufacture and ship 3,500 wheelchairs to the Iraqi government. The company has also introduced Designer Edition and Armed Forces Edition Wijits featuring thousands of patterns and colors. Most recently, Wijit received the 2014 Universal Accessibility Award by United Cerebral Palsy.
While Watwood’s lever-inspired dream lives on in the Wijit, he is no longer directly involved in the day-to-day operations. However, Niccum reports that Watwood still regularly shows up at the Roseville office and is involved in the development of new products.