August 2011


Stanford University, 2011 - $20,000

Ascites is a condition in which fluid builds up in the abdominal cavity, most commonly from cirrhosis of the liver and cancer. Patients suffering from ascites can initially be managed with diuretics and by restricting salt in their diet, but over time they need increasing doses of medication and eventually become non-responsive to treatment. Only a few patients with end-stage liver disease receive liver transplants; the vast majority of patients have to live with a significant amount of fluid in their abdomen, requiring a trip to the hospital for drainage every 2-4 weeks which clearly affects a patient’s quality of life. This E-Team is developing a novel technology aimed at managing patients with ascites at home in order to prevent frequent hospital visits.


University of California, Davis, 2011 - $20,000

Despite the indisputable need for the development of renewable energy sources, the current options for renewable fuel (ethanol, butanol, biodiesel, methane, and hydrogen) are heavily based on food crops. One promising option is cellulosic biofuels, which have the potential to replace 30% of current demand for transportation fuels. However, the decomposition of cellulosic biomass presents a formidable challenge that requires costly, energy-intensive and environmentally detrimental pretreatment steps.

This team is researching the viability of duckweed, a tiny, stem-less monocot plant that grows on the surface of ponds, as a cellulosic biofuel. Duckweed has a 2-3 day doubling time, utilizes non-arable land, can grow all year round and does not require extensive biomass pretreatment for biofuel production.

Strong Arm

Rochester Institute of Technology, 2011 - $17,200

Lifting injuries affect hundreds of thousands of workers each year. Injuries arise partly due to lack of training and partly due to situations in which workers lift heavy loads for extended periods of time. The effects of these injuries are costly, with $50 billion per year paid out in worker’s compensation.

This team is developing the Strong Arm, a form-fitting garment that incorporates a unique system of load-bearing straps that allows workers to lift heavy objects more easily and with significantly less risk of injury. Essentially, the system shifts the forces of lifting from the injury-prone hands, arms, neck, shoulders and lower back and distributes them evenly to stronger and more stable areas of the torso.

Update: Strong Arm was one of four $100k Diamond Winners in the 2012 MassChallenge contest. Here's a video of the team from the event.

What's happening on campus?


NCIIA's student ambassadors are at work on thirteen campuses across the country. You can follow their activities--and see what's happening on campus--on NCIIA's student ambassador blog.

BMEidea: A design competition for biomedical engineering students

Meet the 2014 Winners!

The world needs more effective, functional and affordable technology solutions to clinical medical problems.

You can fast-track these solutions by entering BMEidea, the United States' leading competition for biomedical and bioengineering students. Cash prizes are available: the first place team wins $10,000; second place $5,000; and third place $2,500.*

This year TREAT (Center for Translation of Rehabilitation Engineering Advances and Technology) is offering an additional $1,000 prize for excellence in Assistive and Rehabilitation Technologies. 

TREAT is a multidisciplinary, multi-institutional, collaborative consortium between corporate, educational and non-profit entities providing infrastructure support and expert consultation to researchers and innovators interested in the translation and commercialization of rehabilitation research applications.

BMEidea 2014 competition timeline

  • April 4: BMEidea application deadline
  • April-May: Judging of entries
  • Mid May: Finalists are notified
  • June 11: Awards will be presented to first, second and third place winners at the 2014 MD&M Medical Device Tradeshow and Convention 

Apply and tell us about:

  •  A health-related technology
  •  Invented by students
  •  That addresses a real clinical need

Competition entries will be judged on the following:

  • Technical, economic and regulatory feasibility
  • Contribution to human health and quality of life
  • Technological innovation
  • Potential for commercialization


Additional information

 View the complete competition guidelines and apply

*Please note: Cash prizes will be disbursed to each of the winning team's departments to be allocated at the discretion of the faculty advisor.

Previous winners:


Teams and technologies

mMitra - Stanford University
mMitra is a free mobile voice messaging and animated film service in rural India for pregnant women and mothers of children under the age five. It will provide culturally appropriate, comprehensive information on preventive care as well as simple interventions in the case of emergencies. It will be presented in the local dialect and be tailored to the month of pregnancy or the age of the child. The messages will be sent at weekly/monthly intervals free of cost to the women. To access women without their own mobile phones, one phone (with animations coded into them) will be provided to two elected, trained, trusted female leaders.

Saathi - MIT
Lack of access to sanitary napkins has resulted in grave health & socio-economic consequences for rural females in developing countries. Saathi has created a small scale manufacturing process & a viable distribution model to make and sell affordable sanitary pads. India is our initial market & our model can be adapted to other developing countries.

Imagínate - MIT
Imagínate will offer after-school classes to students whose parents want to prepare them for careers in engineering and the sciences.  Students will gain hands-on experience in scientific experimentation and technology design, preparing them to work in the global economy. They will learn problem solving, teamwork, leadership, and creativity, giving them opportunities and resources that may not exist in their communities.

mSurvey - MIT
mSurvey uses SMS texting features on mobile phones to help governments, NGOs, designers, engineers, and researchers in developing countries collect data they need quickly and at low cost. The vision is to use mSurvey as a platform to engage community members in discussing and enumerating data that is fundamental to the key issues. The goal is to mediate technology transfer from developed to less developed countries.

SMART Coops (Sustainable Management of Agricultural Resources and Trade) - MIT
Based in the Philippines, a country with 4 million farmers and 2 million fishing operators, SMART Coops will leverage the emergence of web-enabled mobile phones and Internet to enable these operators to expand their customer reach across provinces or outside the country.

A Multi-Hazard-Resilient Residential Housing Model for Haiti: Rebuilding Communities and Livelihoods through Sustainable Partitioning - University of Notre Dame
Based on personal reconnaissance in Haiti, we have identified the need for a completely new housing paradigm for Haiti resulting from unique requirements and constraints, but with the capacity to withstand the dual threat of hurricanes and earthquakes. This project focuses on a new sustainable partitioning system for housing called Vèt Miray (Green Wall). Using mechanically processed agricultural waste products, Vèt Miray has the potential to not only significantly alleviate the risk posed by the concrete masonry units used widely before the quake, but also addresses other Haitian societal issues related to waste disposal and economic opportunity by providing a new green industry to the region most affected by the earthquake.

Inserogen - University of California-Davis
Inserogen is a biotech startup that aims to commercialize SwiftVax, a technology that enables the use of non-transgenic tobacco plants as protein biofactories. This proprietary technology platform is a disruptive innovation that can revolutionize biomanufacturing. Our capabilities of high-volume, cost-efficient, and accelerated manufacturing would enable the production of live saving vaccines in response to outbreaks, such as the H1N1 pandemic. The SwiftVax manufacturing platform can be customized for production of any high-value recombinant protein, and it would enable new markets in both developed and developing countries.

GRIT (Global Research Innovation and Technology) - MIT
GRIT is a nonprofit dedicated to improving the quality of life for people around the world through the development and dissemination of appropriate technology. Our products are backed by rigorous science and engineering, and we work closely with our community partners to conduct extensive testing in the field. GRIT will draw on the high-level research and development talent offered through academic labs at MIT to bring technological solutions to poverty alleviation into the field.

MMER (Mobile Medical Emergency Responders) - MIT
MMER is a telephone system that will be deployed using Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology in humanitarian-assisted disaster relief efforts in developing countries. MMER will mobilize thousands of medical experts around the world to provide medical advice remotely to affected populations and will utilize both voice recognition and touch-tone response to enable any mobile or land-line phone user to tap into MMER's resources. Moreover, unlike other disaster-relief applications that rely heavily on MMS or SMS, the MMER system will open up aid and medical access to illiterate populations.

Watu - MIT
The goal is to launch a company that helps Bolivian women sell their knitted products in overseas markets. Watu will distribute a small focused line of hand-spun, alpaca yarns in natural and/or naturally-dyed colors, produced by cooperatives in Bolivia. Yarn would be sold in "kit" form along with a knitting pattern, with the option to buy a finished knitted product. A collection of products and their patterns would be released seasonally. Designs would be geared toward a modern, elegant, youthful audience in the US and Europe- to be sold in designer boutiques, direct web sales, and "eco-conscious/ green" sales avenues. Ideally, the business would aid in preservation of indigenous knitting skills and create employment for women in impoverished regions of Bolivia.

Roof For Two - Tufts University
Roof For Two provides quality weather protection for all two-wheeler transportation in India. Every year, torrential monsoon rains and harsh summer sun severely hinder motorcycle travel, which is the main mode of transport in India. This affects the travel of over 97 million Indian motorcycle owners. Roof For Two’s Shield is the innovation that will drastically change motorcycle transportation by ensuring riders stay comfortable in any weather.

NextDrop - University of California-Berkeley
NextDrop leverages the proliferation of mobile phones in India to provide households with accurate and timely information about when piped water supply will become available in their locality. These real-time notifications from the point of delivery allow us to reach consumers 30-60 minutes before water will be available in their homes or at nearby taps.  The increased reliability of water supply information decreases uncertainty, facilitates better rationing of stored water supplies, and allows consumers to save time and to lead more productive and less stressful lives. 

Safe Water World - MIT
Safe Water World is a project dedicated to meeting the need for low-cost, highly accurate water quality testing. We have developed portable, low-cost testing kits that contain easy to execute microbial tests in a design that is durable enough to be used in the field. We provide field-ready, low-cost, microbial drinking water test kits that are simple to use and do not require the use of electricity for sample incubation.

Tseai Energy Unlimited - University of Maryland
Tseai Energy is an innovative agricultural and renewable energy company
focused on social and economic development in West Africa. The company enables underdeveloped communities to produce renewable energy whiles simultaneously developing their economies. This is done by introducing small scale agricultural processing mills to rural communities, enabling them to locally process their crops. The mill is then complimented with a biodigester that converts the agricultural waste into organic fertilizer and renewable energy in the form of biogas. The biogas produced will be used primarily as a cooking fuel to minimize the cutting down of trees for firewood, the leading cause of deforestation in the developing world.

Novel Catheter-based System to Replace Paracentesis in Ascites PatientsStanford University
Ascites, a term used for an accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity, is most commonly due to cirrhosis and severe liver disease. As fluids become accumulated rapidly, diuretics are not enough and patients frequently have to resort to paracentesis, where a large bore needle is placed inside the abdominal cavity to drain out excess fluid. This procedure would typically take place weekly or biweekly in a clinical setting. PuraCath has a novel catheter-based system that allows patients to perform fluid drainage in the comfort of their home, and at a low cost. With the proprietary and highly innovative technology that PuraCath has, patients worldwide will be able to have a cost-effective treatment option to improve their quality of life and reduce mortality rates.

Solar Sanitation System - Georgia Institute of Technology
The future sanitation solutions that will help us reach the world’s sanitation goals will be: innovative, scalable, highly effective and environmentally sustainable.  The need for sustainability on multiple levels is a core focus of Georgia Tech’s efforts in the sanitation sector. The solar sanitation system is specifically designed to address the needs of citizens living in regions where there is currently little or no wastewater treatment and without the resources needed to set up centralized waste treatment systems. Our solar latrine design provides a low cost sanitation system that uses the sun’s rays to kill off disease causing pathogens and render the waste safe to use as fertilizer. This sanitation system can potentially provide a sustainable solution that is environmentally conscious, improves health, and provides economic benefits through production of fertilizer to resource poor communities globally.

Baisikeli Ugunduzi - Michigan Technological University
Baisikeli Ugunduzi is a social profit business that designs, manufactures, and distributes bicycle components for boda boda in Kenya and beyond.

Development of Neonatal Care Devices for Uganda - Columbia University
To address the need for medical technologies in Uganda and other developing nations, the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University has embarked on an effort to develop novel, low cost, reliable and serviceable technologies for neonatal care. We will initially be working with physicians at the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) at Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Uganda. The doctors at Mulago have expressed that they are in dire need for basic medical technologies for infants including vital signs monitors, systems for jaundice detection and treatment, small-volume infusion pumps, blood sample collection and storage solutions, and systems for infant transport and thermoregulation. 

Maa-bara - MIT
Maa-Bara is a minimal-waste closed-loop sustainable agricultural model that utilizes kitchen scraps to grow healthy, fresh fish and vegetables. We are developing low-tech, low-cost kits for aquaponics in the developing world.



NCIIA companies in the news....

Some more great results from former E-Teams!

Ecotech Marine's Vortechs filtration system is being used by the Smithsonian for its 2,000 gallon reef display.

Therapeutic Systems has launched rental and rent-to-own programs to make its $2,000 Vayu vest—designed to help calm and ground autistic children—more affordable.

See more NCIIA companies.


Jared Goodner - University of Southern California

Jared Goodner is currently pursuing a PhD in biomedical engineering at the University of Southern California’s Medical Device Development Facility, where he seeks to better understand the human motor-control system by modeling spinal cord neural networks. Prior to attending USC, he graduated in 2007 from Washington University in St. Louis with a B.S. in biomedical engineering. Since then, he has worked for an MIT spinoff firm that designs and builds humanoid robots, and co-founded a non-profit that creates innovative fundraising solutions for other non-profit organizations.

His interests lie in software development, biomimetic device design, machine learning, and commercializing innovative and socially beneficial technology developed within his community.