April 2009

2008 BMEidea Winners

Pictured above: Back row left to right: Alec Zopf, Northwestern; Kurt Qing, Northwestern; Joseph Wood, Johns Hopkins; Dhanya Rangaraj, Johns Hopkins; Meet Patel, Johns Hopkins Front row left to right: Shonali Midha, Northwestern; Lauren Smith, Northwestern; Sumona Nag, Stanford; Ellis Garai, Stanford; Henry Chang, Johns Hopkins; Hyun-Sun Seo, Johns Hopkins Not pictured: Anup Shah, Stanford


First Prize: Rapid Suture

- Stanford University

Rapid Suture is a small, inexpensive device that allows for quick, safe, and easy surgical tissue manipulation during laparoscopic procedures.


Second Prize: KMC ApneAlert

- Northwestern University

Developing a device for premature infants that monitors abdominal breathing movements and sounds an alarm when the infant stops breathing.


Third Prize: REGEN: Local Delivery of Post-Operative Analgesia

- Johns Hopkins University

REGEN is a small implantable receptacle that diffuses pain-relieving analgesic directly at the site of a laparoscopic incision.

What the 2008 winners were doing 1.5 years after the competition

In the news: An affordable solar generator for rural Africa

An NCIIA Sustainable Vision team from MIT has developed a solar thermal microgenerator capable of providing both electricity and heat to the rural areas of South Africa. Read more about this low cost, sustainable project at PlanetGreen.com.

NCIIA focuses entrepreneurship training on scientists

Sign up now for the new BioScience Advanced Invention to Venture workshop, scheduled for May 28-30 at Creighton University in partnership with Nebraska Medical School.

The three-day, intensive workshop is designed for scientists, student or faculty-led E-Teams, and researchers focused on licensing or commercializing bioscience projects, medical products or services. The BioAI2V program enables participants to more quickly develop a licensing plan or launch a new company by providing instruction, exercises, pitching opportunities and coaching complete with real-time feedback from coaches and investors. By the end of the workshop, participants will have a complete commercialization plan and be able to deliver a pitch-ready PowerPoint presentation to investors and/or strategic partners. Individuals interested in learning more about this program should contact NCIIA

Powermundo project wins sustainable future award

Last month Powermundo, an NCIIA Sustainable Vision grantee from Colorado State University, won $1,000 in the Foundation for a Sustainable Future and the William James Foundation's Richard Heinberg Prize awards.

Powermundo is a supply network that provides 'green-tech' products to the Peruvian market. Read more about the awards, visit Powermundo's website to learn more about the project, and watch a video about Powermundo.

Celebrating Earth Day: NCIIA E-Teams tackle green challenges around the world

NCIIA-funded E-Teams, such as Washington State's Malawi Water Cycle team (right), are receiving a lot of media attention. Read more about the green innovations that will help shape our future, on Discovery Channel's Planet Green.

What's in our food? Call the Good Guide (Berkeley University)

Waste not, want not. More about Greensulate (RPI)

Smart windows, SmarterShade (University of Notre Dame)

Pedal power: the Malawi Water Cycle (Washingtion State University)

From fuel to fibers. Coconut shells may make all the difference (Baylor University)

When art and technology collide. 'Ivy' solar panels by SMIT GROW (Pratt Institute)

NexGEN SolarPads

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2008 - $19,000

Solar power has long been seen as a viable alternative to fossil fuel-based power, but has remained too expensive to force a trend in the residential market, where outfitting your home with photovoltaic panels can cost up to $40,000. Current panels are themselves non-sustainable: they require a large amount of energy to manufacture, and the materials are non-recyclable.

This E-Team is looking to solve both problems with SolarPads, an inexpensive, recyclable photovoltaic panel. The design uses compound parabolic concentrators to widen the panel’s range and increase its concentration ratio, which means that fewer photovoltaic cells need to be used, lowering the cost. It also uses an inflatable wedge system that allows the panel to rotate to a position closest to the sun. Overall, the team is aiming for a panel that is 90% cheaper than similar solar panels.

ecoMOD Home Energy and Environmental Monitoring System

University of Virginia, 2008 - $15,000

EcoMOD is an ongoing green building project at the University of Virginia in which architecture and engineering students construct affordable, modular homes that use 30-50% less energy than similar houses. They’ve built five houses so far, funded by a variety of non-profits, corporations and the EPA. The first house, ecoMOD1, has an extensive monitoring system in place to gather data on energy and water usage. While the system works well, it’s far too expensive to be a commercial energy-monitoring product and hasn’t been replicated in the other ecoMOD homes.

The team is now developing a commercial version: a low-cost, freeware, wireless home energy monitoring system that provides real-time feedback on energy use (electricity consumption of major appliances, water consumption, indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity, and carbon dioxide emissions), has the capability to adjust thermostat and ventilation settings based on whether the residents are home, and enables peak load shedding of selected appliances based on price signals from the utility. It consists of microcontrollers ranged around the house, a base station, and a web interface.

EcoMOD project website

N-SORB: Providing Safer Environment

Brown University, 2008 - $20,000

Mercury exposures are anticipated to rise with the rapid growth in compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), which contain 3-5 mg of mercury per lamp. Recent research at Brown identified a form of elemental selenium (nSe) with the ability to capture mercury vapor—a finding widely reported in the news in the summer of 2008 (New York Times, Discovery, etc.). The team is now developing a technology platform for a variety of mercury management products based around nSe, including box liners for CFL packages and shipping/recycling containers, consumer clean-up kits, air cleaning products for large spills, and dental office products. With NCIIA funding the team is assessing the long-term stability of nSe, researching ways to incorporate nSe into porous or permeable matrices, building and testing prototypes, and performing market research.

Development of a Novel, Low-Cost Point of Care HIV Viral Load Diagnostic for Resource-Limited Communities

Arizona State University at the Tempe Campus, 2008 - $20,000

HIV viral load testing, which measures the number of HIV copies in a milliliter of blood, provides important information in monitoring the status of HIV disease by guiding recommendations for therapy and predicting the future course of the disease. However, the current viral load test is expensive ($50k initial capital outlay, $40 per test), requires skilled technicians and significant training, and is available only in well-equipped medical facilities.

This E-Team is developing a new viral load test that is far cheaper ($200 capital outlay, $6 per test), does not required skilled technicians, and can be implemented in rural clinics in the developing world. The team’s simple approach is to use the naked eye to confirm the presence and quantity of HIV in the blood. The product will be a kit consisting of two pieces of equipment (a blue-light box and a water bath) and a package of inexpensive reagents that do not require cold-chain storage. Blood samples drawn from the patient are processed in 2.5 hours and read in a dark room using the blue-light: blood containing HIV above threshold levels fluoresce, indicating a high viral load.