Thank you for your interest in the BMEStart competition!
Since 2010, the BMEStart competition has recognized the finest in undergraduate biomedical engineering innovation. Strong BMEStart submissions define a problem to be solved and demonstrate the development of a device, product, or technology designed to solve it Examples include but are not limited to: surgical devices, home health care devices, diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventative applications, rehabilitative and assistive technologies, or other innovations that will have a substantial impact on clinical care and patient outcomes.
The BMEStart competition is open to undergraduate students only (for mixed student teams, see the BMEIdea competition). Students enrolled in senior biomedical engineering capstone design courses are especially encouraged to apply to BMEStart. Multidisciplinary teams are also encouraged to apply and may include undergraduate students from diverse fields such as business, nursing, physical therapy, life sciences, physical sciences, or other related disciplines. Inter-institutional collaborations are also encouraged; in these cases we require a faculty advisor from each institution. Each team must include at least one engineering student.
BMEStart awards are presented at the BMES meeting each year. Competition winners will receive cash awards ($10,000 for first place, $5,000 for second place, and $2,500 for third place), as well as access to resources to be used for further development and commercialization of their products. They will also have the opportunity to present their designs and business plans to representatives of investor organizations. Cash prizes will be disbursed to each of the winning team's departments to be allocated at the discretion of the faculty advisor.
Team members have rights to all intellectual property, subject to the rules of their home institutions, unless assigned to others in exchange for support, sponsorship, or funding. Teams will be encouraged to retain a significant and motivating interest in their project results.
Competition registration and materials submission take place online via NCIIA’s competition tools. There is a limit of 3 entries per department within an academic institution; it is up to each department to coordinate which entries are submitted.
The BMEStart competition is sponsored by the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) with support from The Lemelson Foundation, in partnership with IEEE EMBS, the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), and the Council of Chairs of Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering Programs.
PLEASE NOTE: A faculty advisor must verify his/her support of this competition entry. Applicants will be prompted to verify the support of a faculty advisor in Step 3 of this online competition application tool. Please allow several days for the faculty advisor to respond. The application CANNOT be submitted without his/her support.
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The 2012 competition winners have been announced and will be recognized at the BMES Annual Meeting.
2013 competition timeline
- Friday, May 3: BMEStart 2013 application deadline
- May 3-July 15: Judging of entries
- End of July: Finalists are notified
- September 25-28: Awards will be announced at the 2013 BMES Annual Meeting in Seattle, WA (exact time and location TBA)
- The BMEStart competition is open to all undergraduate student teams at colleges and universities. Teams that include graduate students are not eligible for the BMEStart competition, but should consider applying for NCIIA's BMEIdea competition.
- Eligible teams must include at least one engineering student.
- Submissions should solve a clinical problem; feature a novel and practical solution; include a description of potential intellectual property and how it could be protected; and show market potential.
- The narrative may not exceed ten (10) pages (double-spaced, 12 point font) in total.
- No more than five (5) optional appendices may be submitted. While not required, applicants are strongly encouraged to include at least one letter of support from the team's faculty advisor, clinician or an industry mentor, as applicable, as an appendix.
- NCIIA declares no rights to intellectual property. Team members will have the rights to all intellectual property, subject to the rules of their home institutions, unless assigned to others in exchange for support, sponsorship, or funding. Participants will be expected to have taken appropriate steps to protect the intellectual property disclosed in submissions.
Strong BMEStart submissions will demonstrate a mastery of analytical and design skills and capabilities; the ability to manage the product development process; the ability to work effectively in teams; and written technical communication skills. Submissions will be judged on the following criteria:
- Originality and patentability
- Technical feasibility
- Clinical utility
- Endorsement from advisors and/or industry collaborators
- Economic feasibility
- Market potential
Intellectual Property policies
The NCIIA supports teams as they work toward commercialization of their inventions. Ownership of discoveries or inventions resulting from activities financed by NCIIA grant and/or competition prize funds will be governed by grantee institutions’ intellectual property policies. If a school does not have an intellectual property policy, then the institution must develop an agreement that establishes ownership of ideas resulting from student team work. The NCIIA takes no financial or ownership interest in the projects recognized by these competitions.
Please read and understand your institution’s Intellectual Property policy before submitting an application.
Submitting an entry to this competition for recognition of innovative design will necessitate public announcement of project summary, photos and/or videos for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners, as well as any honorable mentions. Teams are advised to address intellectual property filings prior to submission and will be given one week from notification of award before the public announcement will be made.
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All applications must be submitted online. Anyone on the team may serve as the applicant on a submission. ALL deadlines end at 11:59pm eastern time unless otherwise indicated.
To start, you’ll need to have an NCIIA account. Creating an account is easy, and anyone can do it. To access an existing account or to create a new one, click here. You may start, save, stop and return to your online proposal at anytime before submitting.
You may preview the online application here. PLEASE NOTE: this PDF includes screen shots of NCIIA's five-step proposal process. The proposal shown is an Advanced E-Team grant proposal, but steps for the BMEStart application are the same. This PDF is for preview purposes only.
Your Department Chair and your Faculty Advisor must verify their support of your competition application (verification for Faculty Advisor is waived if s/he is also the applicant). To ensure timely approval of your application by your institution, apprise your advisor of your intention to submit 3-4 weeks in advance of the deadline, and share your application with them prior to submission.
The proposal: Required and optional components
The following documents are required as part of your BMEStart application and must be included in the following order, combined together in a single PDF:
1. Narrative (no more than 10 pages)
2. Key team member resumes (limit of 3 pages per resume)
The header of each page must include a short project title, university name and team last names. The footer of each page shall be numbered. This PDF of required documents should be uploaded in step 4 of the online application. Details about each component are below.
The narrative may not exceed 10 pages in length (double-spaced, 12 point font). Please include any images referenced in your narrative in the body of the narrative, NOT as appendices. Please prepare a narrative description that includes the following:
- Executive summary (2 pages). An outline of the strategy for commercialization and opportunity statement. See below for additional details.
- Description of the problem to be solved (no more than 1/2 page). What is the problem you have solved? What are the market and/or industry needs that you intend to address?
- Project objective statement (no more than 1/2 page). How does your team intend to address the problem? How does your final design solve the problem?
- Documentation of the final design (1 page). Be sure to include applicable standards and a risk analysis.
- Prototype of the final design (1 page). Paste graphical representations and photographs in the document and, if available, provide a link to a video.
- Proof that the design is functional and will solve the problem (1 page). Include test data, market research or pre-clinical/clinical trials.
- Results of a patent search and/or search for prior art, assessment and patentability (1 page). Two excellent resources for this search are www.uspto.gov, and your institution's technology transfer office. Regarding marketplace competition, what is currently being used to solve the problem and/or what are the anticipated alternate methods that could be in competition with you in the future?
- Anticipated regulatory pathway (510(k) vs. PMA, etc.) (1/2 page). Consider researching how the FDA has treated analogous devices.
- Reimbursement (1/2 page). Do you expect your device to be reimbursable by Medicare/Medicaid? Why or why not?
- Estimated manufacturing costs (1 page). Provide detailed per unit cost breakdown, including volume discount, for components, final assembly, quality assurance, etc.
- Potential market (1 page). Who would your customers be (i.e., who will be purchasing the product) and who would the end users be (i.e., who would be using the product? If possible, quantify the number of potential users and the benefit they would receive from use of the product. Define the potential market size, selling price, and distribution channels.
What's in an Executive Summary? An executive summary summarizes all of the above and serves as a stand-alone justification for why this idea should be pursued. Be sure to address the essentials, including:
- Problem: What is the problem you aim to solve?
- Solution: How do you solve it?
- Competition: What are alternate methods of solving the problem or anticipated methods that could be in competition with you in the future?
- Differentiation: Why will people choose your solution over others?
- Technical Feasibility: Have you done it and can it be done?
- Regulatory and Reimbursement: What FDA approvals will be required? What Medicare/Medicaid strategy is needed?
- Sales and Marketing: What is the estimated size of the market (with rationale)? Who is the buyer/customer/user? Who will they buy it from? At what pricing?
Additional (optional) supporting documents
Up to five additional appendices may be included in your proposal and must be uploaded as one merged PDF. Appendices may include but are not limited to:
- Letter(s) of support. Applicants are strongly encouraged to include at least one letter of support from an industry mentor and/or faculty advisor, if applicable, who has worked with the team, attesting to the quality of the work they have done.
- Images demonstrating design and/or technical feasibility (drawings, photographs, etc.)
- A summary of prior art
- Literature review
- Any data collected as part of testing your technology
- Any other relevant supporting materials
Note: Sheer volume of material is not an asset. Reviewers are directed to use supporting materials only to supplement the 10-page narrative. Therefore, key information should included in the narrative.
Web links and/or videos
In addition to the appendices mentioned above, teams may upload no more than four web links, which may include online articles, videos and/or other relevant online data.
You are encouraged to submit a brief video pitch about your innovation. A link to the video may be added as an appendix item. These product demonstration and/or video pitches will help judges differentiate between the team's idea and those presented in other submissions. We recommend keeping the video to 60 seconds or less. State the problem, the innovation, why it is better than what currently exists, and the impact of the team's solution. Please submit this as a link on YouTube or a similar web-accessible site. NCIIA reserves the right to use submitted videos for public promotional purposes (on its website, in promotions for future BMEStart competitions). Videos should not contain proprietary information about the innovation. It is the team's responsibility to ensure the video is appropriate for public use.
Proposal review process and notification
- Submitted applications are reviewed by external panels of reviewers made up of individuals from academia, industry, nonprofits & NGOs, and venture capital with experience in the technology areas and in the commercialization of early stage innovations.
- NCIIA notifies applicants of the status of their submissions via email within 90 days of the submission deadline.
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