2009

2009 BMEidea Winners: What are they up to?

The 2009 cohort of BMEidea winners included two new diagnostic technologies and a surgical device, each designed to make healthcare more efficient, more effective, and less costly. We caught up with the winners a year after the competition to see where they're at, what progress they've made, and how winning the BMEidea competition has affected their projects.

First prize: Lab-on-a-Stick, Stanford University
It’s a situation most of us take for granted: if you go to the doctor for, say, a blood test, it’s going to take some time to get the results back. The sample is drawn, the doctor sends the sample to a lab, the lab runs the test and sends back the results. The entire process takes several days, if not more, and in the developing world (where labs can be distant or non-existent) it may not be an option at all.

Two Stanford doctoral students are looking to change all that. Richard Gaster and Drew Hall, winners of the 2009 BMEidea competition, are the creators of a technology that has the potential to test for disease any time and any place, without doctors, technicians or special lab equipment. The device, dubbed NanoLab (formerly Lab-on-a-Stick), is the size of a small paperback book and consists of an electronic circuit board, LEDs and a tiny well, just big enough to hold a few drops of blood from a pipette.

It works like this: the user adds a droplet of a sample (blood, saliva, urine, etc.) into the well, adds magnetic tags to label the viral proteins (making them detectable by the device’s nanosensors), and finally adds a protein solution containing disease antibodies. The tester hits start and, ten to fifteen minutes later, small green, orange and red lights illuminate, indicating which disease proteins were detected, and at what level. This is essentially miniaturizing a 250-pound electromagnet and desktop computer from a normal-sized lab into tiny wires that fit in the palm of your hand, and has the potential to become a disruptive technology in both developed and developing countries.1

The idea for the project came out of Gaster and Hall’s research. Gaster, a fourth-year MD and PhD candidate in bioengineering, and Hall, a fifth-year PhD student in electrical engineering, have been collaborating together for years on their research projects involving ultra-sensitive diagnostic lab equipment. But they hadn’t thought of bringing their research to a larger world until the BMEidea competition. According to Gaster, “When we heard about the BMEidea competition, it was a great gateway for us to say, ‘Let’s do something—let’s make a difference.’ We brainstormed potential projects that we could pursue with our expertise, and we realized that we could make an affordable device that could be useful to a lot more people than just those working in labs and research facilities like our own.”

Hall added, “We wanted to do something that could benefit humanity and be helpful on a large scale, not just to a small subset of people.”

Just submitting for BMEidea itself turned out to be something of a challenge, however, since Gaster and Hall started late in the application process and only had enough time for two phases of design. “That meant one opportunity for failure,” said Gaster. The first design they created was indeed a failure, but in the second round of design they fixed the problems, and the device worked. “It was fortunate that we’ve been working in this area in general,” said Hall. “We knew what the technical challenges would be, and it all worked out in the end.”

The team has had a series of successes since winning BMEidea, finalizing a utility patent on the device, winning a Gates Foundation grant to support development of the technology for point-of-care HIV/AIDS diagnosis in sub-Saharan Africa, winning first prize in the IEEE Presidents’ Change the World Competition, and making several technical advances to automate the device more than before—streamlining the process.

The team is just now getting into the thicket of commercializing the device, figuring out the business model they want to use to bring it to market. They’ve spoken with several companies regarding licensing, but they haven’t decided if licensing or creating a startup is the right path for them.

“We’re looking into all the different opportunities right now, as we speak,” said Hall. “We’re working on a business plan to figure out whether it’s financially feasible for us to turn this into a startup company or whether it’s better for us to license it to a bigger company with more resources. We haven’t decided yet what the best path is.”

In the meantime, Gaster and Hall are glad they applied for the BMEidea competition. Said Gaster: “Drew and I have always had an interest in developing our respective research projects for bigger causes, but we never had the motivation to actually do it. We’d always say, ‘Oh, wouldn’t this be cool, wouldn’t that be cool,’ and not pursue it. When we read about the BMEidea competition it motivated us to spend a lot of nights and weekends hammering out this idea, seeing if it was really feasible, and seeing if we had the capability to create a world-changing invention. It really gave us that motivation.”

“And, moving forward, having won the BMEidea competition, it gives us clout in the future when we’re presenting to venture capitalists or even for job applications. It shows that we have the ability to create an interesting idea that has a chance to make an impact on the world.”

Second prize: SurgiSIL, University of Cincinnati
Laparoscopic surgery is a relatively new technique in which small incisions are made in the abdomen and surgical instruments are passed through, allowing for smaller wounds, quicker recovery times and shorter hospital stays. In a typical laparoscopic procedure, two to five “trocars,” or access ports, are inserted into the abdomen and act as passageways for surgical instruments.

This team, winner of second place in the 2009 BMEidea competition, is looking to reduce the number of trocars to exactly one. Calling itself Single Port Solutions, the team is developing the SurgiSIL, a device that allows a surgeon to perform laparoscopy through one access point in the belly button. This single port approach reduces trauma even further, decreases recovery time, and eliminates visible scarring since the single incision is hidden away in the belly button.

Other single port devices are in development by other companies, but the team is achieving competitive differentiation in the SurgiSIL by increasing the range of motion available to the surgeon and by making the exchange of surgical instruments in and out of the SurgiSIL quicker and easier than anyone else.

The SurgiSIL project got its start when a general surgeon contacted Mary Beth Privitera, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Cincinnati, with a problem he wanted solved: creating a single-port access device for laparoscopy. The idea was plugged into the Medical Device Innovation and Entrepreneurship program at UC, in which a range of clinical problems in need of solutions is presented to students and they self-select the projects they want to participate in. Four students chose to work on the single-port access device: Michael Wirtz, Fath Kyle, Steve Haverkos and Miao Wang.

The team worked hard on the project, designing a device, forming a company and licensing the IP from the university (and winning second place in the BMEidea competition along the way). They were actively looking into licensing with several industry partners when they hit a roadblock: intellectual property. Said Privitera: “The biggest challenge in commercializing laparoscopy devices is IP. This area has major companies in it—large players that patent everything.”

The hitch was the SurgiSIL’s sealing mechanism. Patents in the area of laparoscopy have been around since the early 90’s, and the sealing mechanisms for the devices have a multitude of patents around them. “So while the SurgiSIL project isn’t shelved,” said Privitera, “it’s in a holding pattern until there’s a solution that’s more readily patentable around the sealing issue.”

IP issues aside, participating in the BMEidea competition was beneficial both to the team members and to the institution, according to Privitera. “The impact of the BMEidea competition was actually quite large,” she said. “Winning BMEidea was probably the biggest motivational factor for the team; it helped them gel, come together, and really hone in on a business plan and get it to a stage where licensing could even be considered.”

From a faculty standpoint, having SurgiSIL take second prize in the BMEidea competition has motivated this year’s teams to “up the ante a bit,” according to Privitera. “They’re looking at SurgiSIL and saying, ‘OK, they did it, they were creative, they worked together, they won this competition, and so can we.’ It’s really set a good example. Even though SurgiSIL isn’t on the market and being sold today, it has paved a path that other students are looking to go down.”

Third prize: A Novel Biosensor to Measure Vitamin D Levels in Serum, Brown University
A curious aspect of modern science is the seeming rise and fall of certain drugs, foods, vitamins, activities—even genes—depending on the latest research. One study will say one thing, a different study will contradict it, and a third will go in a different direction altogether.

A classic example is vitamin D. Nicknamed the “sunshine vitamin” because the skin makes it from ultraviolet rays, vitamin D interacts with over 2,000 genes (about 10% of the genome) in the human body. But for a long time the scientific consensus has been to avoid exposure to sunlight due to the threat of skin cancer.

Now some scientists are questioning that advice.

The reason is that vitamin D increasingly seems important for preventing and even treating many types of cancer. Studies have found it helps protect against lymphoma and cancers of the prostate, lung and, ironically, the skin.2 Research has implicated vitamin D deficiency as a major factor in the pathology of seventeen cancers, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression and more.

Vitamin D, therefore, is on an uptick. The demand for clinical testing of vitamin D levels is rising as well, and this Brown University team, winners of third prize in the 2009 BMEidea competition, is looking to capitalize by creating a vitamin D tester that’s cheap, easy to use and produces immediate results.

Current methods of vitamin D testing suffer from the same drawbacks as any other laboratory test: they’re expensive and take a long time (several days) to get the results. A take-home vitamin D test kit is on the market, but requires users to mail in a special blotting paper containing a few drops of their blood to a lab and wait even longer for the results—two to three weeks.

The Brown University team is instead measuring vitamin D using electrochemical detection technology similar to a commercial glucose meter. The user inserts into the hand-held device a disposable testing strip with a small blood sample on it; the sample is analyzed and the results are displayed qualitatively and quantitatively within minutes. No waiting for days, and the test is estimated to cost about half as much as a traditional vitamin D test performed in a laboratory.

It works not by measuring the actual amount of vitamin D in the blood sample, but rather by measuring how much current is used during catalysis of a certain enzymatic vitamin D precursor. Measuring how much current is drawn by the enzymatic activity correlates to the amount of vitamin D available.

The Brown team consists of Steve Rhieu and Vince Siu on the technology development side and Matt Doherty, Lei Yang, Moses Riner, and Michael Kreitzer on the business development side. The latter four students are from the Program in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship (PRIME), a one-year management program at Brown in which students learn entrepreneurship and venture development skills, then take research from Brown laboratories and try to find commercial value in it. And they’ve been doing just that with the novel vitamin D biosensor, carefully building a compelling business case for the technology.

It hasn’t come without challenges. Their original business strategy was to sell the device as an off-the-shelf home-testing kit, but, according to Doherty, they “soon found out that wasn’t the best way to market it. People would have to prick themselves, which no one likes, and they wouldn’t necessarily be savvy about the way they implant the blood onto the testing strip.”

The team changed gears to market the device directly to doctors and physicians. Their plan now is to outsource the manufacturing and sales of the device itself and make a profit selling the disposable strips. Said Doherty, “That would be a continuous buy as opposed to people buying the device just once.”

Another challenge has simply been getting people aware of why they need vitamin D testing, not only in the general population but among doctors as well. “The product has real benefits,” said Kreitzer, “but one of the challenges has been finding individuals in the market who understand not only the value of vitamin D testing but the value of the product as well.”

The growth of vitamin D awareness, however, makes Kreitzer optimistic about the device’s future. “The good thing is that people are becoming more and more educated about vitamin D. Awareness is growing. More and more diseases are being linked to vitamin D deficiency, so as we progress the venture, so does the readiness of the market.”

The technology development is ongoing, with both Rhieu and Siu as part of the process. The device, which originated as part of Rhieu’s doctoral research, is being optimized as the team works toward a fully functional prototype. They published a preliminary study of their findings last July, which was well received, and Rhieu and Siu meet periodically with the PRIME students, “so we can continue to understand the point of view of healthcare personnel and physicians—understand the real need we need to meet,” said Rhieu.

As far as the experience of the BMEidea competition is concerned, both the technology development students and the business students found it valuable. Said Rhieu: “More than anything, it encouraged us to continue working on this project. It was good way to see the other aspects of the project as well; for example, I never thought this project would be significant for businesspeople; I never thought about figuring out how to actually sell a product. So it was good for me as a scientist to be exposed to that aspect of the project.”

According to Riner, the experience of figuring out how to commercialize a new technology has been valuable in and of itself. “It’s been a great experiential learning experience.”

Over the next year, the team plans on continuing development of the core technologies as well as marketing efforts.


1. From http://news.stanford.edu/news/2009/july22/nanolab-diagnostic-tool-072309.html
2. From http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-05-21-doctors-sunshine-good_x.htm

2009 Intel ISEF/NCIIA winners

2009 Intel ISEF winners:

Gone with the Windmills: An Analysis of the Effectiveness of an Oscillating Wind Energy Generator
Ryan Cherian Alexander
R.C. Clark High School, USA

A Styrofoam-Decomposing Bacterium from Mealworms
I-Ching Tseng
National Taichung Girl's Senior High School, Taiwan

A Novel Method for Measuring Sonoluminescent Spectra
Lyric Elizabeth Gillett
Cornerstone High Homeschool, USA

Designing and Characterizing Zinc Oxide Nanotube Based Hybrid Solar Cell
Enes Guney & Ahmet Rasit Yildirim
Private Beyliduzu Faith Science High School, Turkey

Harvesting the Heart's Energy Using Piezoelectric Materials: A Comparison of Right Atrial, Right Ventricular, and Left Ventricular Pacing Sites
Christopher Ryan Ho, Alexander Scott Ditter, & Atmananda Mitra Persuad
Champlin Park High School, USA

Using Wasted Heat Energy of a Car with Thermoelectric Modules
Thomas Keith Houser
De La Salle High School, USA

Degradation of Antibiotics in Waste Water
Jan Justra
Gymnasium Brno - Reckovice, Czech Republic

Analysis of Nanofiber-based Scaffolds
Abigail Rose Lewis
Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology, USA

Bioelectromagnetics
Alexis Omar Lopez
Celebration High school, USA

Natural Escherichia Coli 0157:H7 Inhibitors: A Future Innovation in Food Safety
Abbey Elaine Thiel
Isabel High School, USA

Neural Network Modeling: An Innovative Time and Cost Efficient Approach for Anti-Cancer Drug Development
Monica Roy Chowdhury
Blue Valley High School, USA

2009 BMEidea Winners: What are they up to?

The 2009 cohort of BMEidea winners included two new diagnostic technologies and a surgical device, each designed to make healthcare more efficient, more effective, and less costly. We caught up the winners a year after the competition to see where they're at, what progress they've made, and how winning the BMEidea competition has affected their projects.

First prize: Lab-on-a-Stick, Stanford University
It’s a situation most of us take for granted: if you go to the doctor for, say, a blood test, it’s going to take some time to get the results back. The sample is drawn, the doctor sends the sample to a lab, the lab runs the test and sends back the results. The entire process takes several days, if not more, and in the developing world (where labs can be distant or non-existent) it may not be an option at all.

Two Stanford doctoral students are looking to change all that. Richard Gaster and Drew Hall, winners of the 2009 BMEidea competition, are the creators of a technology that has the potential to test for disease any time and any place, without doctors, technicians or special lab equipment. The device, dubbed NanoLab (formerly Lab-on-a-Stick), is the size of a small paperback book, and consists of an electronic circuit board, LEDs and a tiny well, just big enough to hold a few drops of blood from a pipette.

It works in three steps: the user adds a droplet of a sample (blood, saliva, urine, etc.) into the well, adds magnetic tags to label the viral proteins (making them detectable by the device’s nanosensors), and finally adds a protein solution containing disease antibodies. The tester hits start and, ten to fifteen minutes later, small green, orange and red lights illuminate, indicating which disease proteins were detected, and at what level. This is essentially miniaturizing a 250-pound electromagnet and desktop computer from a normal-sized lab into tiny wires that fit in the palm of your hand, and has the potential to become a disruptive technology in both developed and developing countries.1

The idea for the project came out of Gaster’s and Hall’s research. Gaster, a fourth-year MD and PhD candidate in bioengineering, and Hall, a fifth-year PhD student in electrical engineering, have been collaborating together on their research projects, which involve ultra-sensitive diagnostic lab equipment. But they hadn’t thought of bringing their research to a larger world until the BMEidea competition. According to Gaster, “When we heard about the BMEidea competition, it was a great gateway for us to say, ‘Let’s do something—let’s make a difference.’ We brainstormed potential projects that we could pursue with our expertise, and we realized that we could make an affordable device that could be useful to a lot more people than just those working in labs and research facilities like our own.”

Hall added, “We wanted to do something that could benefit humanity and be helpful on a large scale, not just to a small subset of people.”

Just submitting for BMEidea itself turned out to be something of a challenge, however, since Gaster and Hall started late in the application process and only had enough time for two phases of design. “That meant one opportunity for failure,” said Gaster. The first design they created was a failure, but in the second round of design they fixed all the problems, and the device worked. “It was fortunate that we’ve been working in this area in general,” said Hall. “We knew what the technical challenges would be, and it all worked out in the end.”

The team has had a series of successes since winning BMEidea, finalizing a utility patent, winning a Gates Foundation grant to support the development of the technology for point-of-care HIV/AIDS diagnosis in sub-Saharan Africa, winning first prize in the IEEE Presidents’ Change the World Competition, and making several technical advances to automate the device more than before—streamlining the process.

The team is just now getting into the thicket of commercializing the device, figuring out the business model they want to use to bring it to market. They’ve spoken with several companies regarding licensing, but they haven’t decided if licensing or creating a startup is the right path for them.

“We’re looking into all the different opportunities right now, as we speak,” said Hall. “We’re working on a business plan to figure out whether it’s financially feasible for us to turn this into a startup company or whether it’s better for us to license it to a bigger company with more resources. We haven’t decided yet what the best path is.”

In the meantime, Gaster and Hall are glad they applied for the BMEidea competition. Said Gaster: “Drew and I have always had an interest in developing our respective research projects for bigger causes, but we never had the motivation to actually do it. We’d always say, ‘Oh, wouldn’t this be cool, wouldn’t that be cool,’ and not pursue it. When we read about the BMEidea competition it motivated us to spend a lot of nights and weekends hammering out this idea, seeing if it was really feasible, and if we have the capability to create a world-changing invention. It really gave us that motivation.”

“And, moving forward, having won the BMEidea competition, it gives us clout in the future when we’re presenting to venture capitalists or even for job applications. It shows that we have the ability to create an interesting idea that has a chance to make an impact on the world.”

Second prize: SurgiSIL, University of Cincinnati
Laparoscopic surgery is a relatively new technique in which small incisions are made in the abdomen and surgical instruments are passed through, allowing for smaller wounds, quicker recovery times and shorter hospital stays. In a typical laparoscopic procedure, two to five “trocars,” or access ports, are inserted into the abdomen and act as passageways for surgical instruments.

This team, winner of second place in the 2009 BMEidea competition, is looking to reduce the number of trocars to exactly one.

Calling itself Single Port Solutions, the team is developing the SurgiSIL, a device that allows a surgeon to perform laparoscopy through one access point in the belly button. This single port approach reduces trauma even further, decreases recovery time, and eliminates visible scarring since the single incision is hidden in the belly button.

Other single port devices are in development by other companies, but the team is achieving competitive differentiation in the SurgiSIL by increasing the range of motion available to the surgeon and by making the exchange of surgical instruments in and out of the SurgiSIL quicker and easier than anyone else.

The SurgiSIL project got its start when a general surgeon contacted Mary Beth Privitera, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Cincinnati, with a problem he wanted solved: creating a single-port access device for laparoscopy. The idea was plugged into the Medical Device Innovation and Entrepreneurship program at UC, in which a range of clinical problems in need of solutions is presented to students and they self-select the projects they want to participate in. Four students chose to work on the single-port access device: Michael Wirtz, Fath Kyle, Steve Haverkos and Miao Wang.

The team worked hard on the project, designing a device, forming a company and licensing the IP from the university (and winning second place in the BMEidea competition along the way). They were actively looking into licensing with several industry partners when they hit a roadblock: intellectual property. Said Privitera: “The biggest challenge in commercializing laparoscopy devices is IP. This area has major companies in it—large players that patent everything.”

The hitch was the SurgiSIL’s sealing mechanism. Patents in the area of laparoscopy have been around since the early 90’s, and the sealing mechanisms for the devices have a multitude of patents around them. “So while the SurgiSIL project isn’t shelved,” said Privitera, “it’s in a holding pattern until there’s a solution that’s more readily patentable around the sealing issue.”

IP issues aside, participating in the BMEidea competition has been beneficial both to the team members and to the institution, according to Privitera. “The impact of the BMEidea competition was actually quite large,” she said. “Winning BMEidea was probably the biggest motivational factor for the team; it helped them gel, come together, and really hone in on a business plan and get it to a stage where licensing could even be considered.”

From a faculty standpoint, having SurgiSIL take second prize in the BMEidea competition has motivated this year’s teams to “up the ante a bit,” according to Privitera. “They’re looking at SurgiSIL and saying, ‘OK, they did it, they were creative, they worked together, they won this competition, and so can we.’ It’s really set a good example. Even though SurgiSIL isn’t on the market and being sold today, it has paved a path that other students are looking to go down.”

Third prize: A Novel Biosensor to Measure Vitamin D Levels in Serum, Brown University
A curious aspect of modern science is the seeming rise and fall of certain drugs, foods, vitamins, activities—even genes—depending on the latest research. One study will say one thing, a different study will contradict it, and a third will go in a different direction altogether.

A classic example is vitamin D. Nicknamed the “sunshine vitamin” because the skin makes it from ultraviolet rays, vitamin D interacts with over 2,000 genes (about 10% of the genome) in the human body. But for a long time the scientific consensus has been to avoid exposure to sunlight due to the threat of skin cancer.

Now some scientists are questioning that advice.

The reason is that vitamin D increasingly seems important for preventing and even treating many types of cancer. Studies have found it helps protect against lymphoma and cancers of the prostate, lung and, ironically, the skin.2 Research has implicated vitamin D deficiency as a major factor in the pathology of seventeen cancers, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression and more.

Vitamin D, therefore, is on an uptick. The demand for clinical testing of vitamin D levels is rising as well, and this Brown University team, winners of third prize in the 2009 BMEidea competition, is looking to capitalize by creating a vitamin D tester that’s cheap, easy to use and produces immediate results.

Current methods of vitamin D testing suffer from the same drawbacks as any other laboratory test: they’re expensive and take a long time (several days) to get the results. A take-home vitamin D test kit is on the market, but requires users to mail in a special blotting paper containing a few drops of their blood to a lab and wait even longer for the results—two to three weeks.

The Brown University team is instead measuring vitamin D using electrochemical detection technology similar to a commercial glucose meter. The user inserts into the hand-held device a disposable testing strip with a small blood sample on it; the sample is analyzed and the results are displayed qualitatively and quantitatively within minutes. No waiting for days, and the test is estimated to cost about half as much as a traditional vitamin D test performed in a laboratory.

It works not by measuring the actual amount of vitamin D in the blood sample, but rather by measuring how much current is used during catalysis of a certain enzymatic vitamin D precursor. Measuring how much current is drawn by the enzymatic activity correlates to the amount of vitamin D available.

The Brown team consists of Steve Rhieu and Vince Siu on the technology development side, and Matt Doherty, Lei Yang, Moses Riner, and Michael Kreitzer on the business development side. The latter four students are from the Program in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship (PRIME), a one-year management program at Brown in which students learn entrepreneurship and venture development skills, then take research from Brown laboratories and try to find the commercial value in it. And they’ve been doing just that with the novel vitamin D biosensor, carefully building a compelling business case for the technology.

It hasn’t come without challenges. Their original business strategy was to sell the device as an off-the-shelf home-testing kit, but, according to Doherty, they “soon found out that wasn’t the best way to market it. People would have to prick themselves, which no one likes, and they wouldn’t necessarily be savvy about the way they implant the blood onto the testing strip.”

The team changed gears to market the device directly to doctors and physicians. Their plan now is to outsource the manufacturing and sales of the device itself, but make a profit selling the disposable strips. Said Doherty, “That would be a continuous buy as opposed to people buying the device just once.”

Another challenge has simply been getting people aware of why they need vitamin D testing, not only in the general population but among doctors as well. “The product has real benefits,” said Kreitzer, “but one of the challenges has been finding individuals in the market who understand not only the value of vitamin D testing but the value of the product as well.”

The growth of vitamin D awareness, however, makes Kreitzer optimistic about the device’s future. “The good thing is that people are becoming more and more educated about vitamin D. Awareness is growing. More and more diseases are being linked to vitamin D deficiency, so as we progress the venture, so does the readiness of the market.”

The technology development is ongoing, with both Rhieu and Siu as part of the process. The device, which originated as part of Rhieu’s doctoral research, is being optimized as the team works toward a fully functional prototype. They published a preliminary study of their findings last July, which was well received, and Rhieu and Siu meet periodically with the PRIME students, “so we can continue to understand the point of view of healthcare personnel and physicians—understand the real need we need to meet,” said Rhieu.

As far as the experience of the BMEidea competition is concerned, both the technology development students and the business students found it valuable. Said Rhieu: “More than anything, it encouraged us to continue working on this project. It was good way to see the other aspects of the project as well; for example, I never thought this project would be significant for businesspeople; I never thought about figuring out how to actually sell a product. So it was good for me as a scientist to be exposed to that aspect of the project.”

According to Riner, the experience of figuring out how to commercialize a new technology has been valuable in and of itself. “It’s been a great experiential learning experience.”

Over the next year, the team plans on continuing development of the core technologies as well as marketing efforts.


1. From http://news.stanford.edu/news/2009/july22/nanolab-diagnostic-tool-072309.html

2. From http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-05-21-doctors-sunshine-good_x.htm

Social Entrepreneurship Course Development

Pennsylvania State University, 2009 - $10,000

The Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) program at Penn State is a collaborative program geared towards creating a freer, fairer, friendlier, and more sustainable world. The program focuses on real-world contexts in indigenous communities around the world.

This grant helps to fill a critical gap in the HESE program by developing a course dedicated to business planning for social ventures in the US and abroad. The course covers the fundamental concepts of social entrepreneurship and employs diverse case studies and experiential learning activities to help students develop a deeper understanding of social problems and devise innovative enterprise solutions to address them.

While HESE currently exists as a certificate program, Penn State is exploring the opportunity to expand it into a minor.

Funding a "Dormcubator" at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

University of Illinois - Urbana-champaign, 2009 - $8,000

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, despite many creativity and entrepreneurship activities, lacks a living-learning opportunity for students early in their academic careers.

The Technology Entrepreneur Center and University Housing are collaborating with several other units to found an Innovation LLC to allow creative and innovative students from diverse disciplines across campus to network with like-minded peers and provide 24-hour access to a “garage space” that offers resources to encourage students to turn their ideas into valuable business ventures and help them work thought common problems encountered in the innovation process. Other benefits include interaction between students who otherwise might never have met on campus, mentors who are business leaders and entrepreneurs providing real world advice and business contacts, and a lab space.

Integrating Innovation and Invention into Computer Science Project Courses

Polytechnic University of NYU, 2009 - $11,000

Over the last several years, NYU-POLY has been immersed in an initiative known as I2E: a transformation to integrate innovation, invention, and entrepreneurship into its core focus. Part of I2E was a $2 million grant recently awarded from New York State for construction of the Center for Innovation in Technology and Entertainment, a space focusing on the development new technologies and ventures centered around digital media.

Given the steps achieved thus far in the I2E initiative, NYU-POLY is making further curriculum changes in its Computer Science department. First, changes will be made to its Senior Design project course, a capstone project course, which will include categorizing material into three areas: (a) creativity exercises, (b) problem identification and needs analysis, and (c) talks from invited inventors and entrepreneurs. These changes will be in parallel with the piloting of “Inventor’s Studio,” a new interdisciplinary project experience where students can further develop their ideas in digital media.

Developing a Professional Certificate Program in Innovation and Sustainability at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, 2009 - $8,000

This grant supports a collaboration between the School of the Arts and the College of Engineering & Applied Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to develop a cross-disciplinary certificate program in innovation and sustainability.

The plan is for the certificate program to be taught by engineering and arts faculty, based on the formation of E-Teams throughout a four-course sequence. Courses will focus on creativity and design processes, innovation and sustainable design, product realization, innovation and commercialization.

The Global Innovation for Village Entrepreneurship (GIVE) Capstone

Arizona State University at the Polytechnic Campus, 2009 - $30,000

Faculty from the GlobalResolve program at ASU is developing a capstone courses and a certificate for Global Innovation for Village Entrepreneurship (GIVE) with the express purpose of creating solutions to village problems in developing countries and then building businesses around the solutions. The capstone courses are:

1) Global Impact Entrepreneurship: Introduction to global poverty, entrepreneurship and village appraisal;

2) Village Immersion: Travel to and assessment of needs of a developing village using GlobalResolve partners to identify the village and arrange for local help. The goal is to talk to the villagers and experience what poverty looks like, feels like and the specific needs of the villagers and to mentor the village in venture startup.

3) Solution Development: Creating a sustainable technological business solution for a village. This course will bring together the theory from course 1 and the experience from the field trips in course 2 into a set of products developed for a village in order to create village-based sustainable business ventures.

The capstone is also participating in the Acara Institute’s Challenge program, with multiple partners for global impact.

The University of Minnesota Acara Summer Institute for High Impact Businesses

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, 2009 - $20,500

2010 is the first year of the Acara Summer Institute, a two-month, intensive incubation for selected teams from the Acara Challenge. Institute attendees are students from ten US and eight Indian universities who will be selected as winning teams from the Challenge. The goal of the institute is to develop and nurture startup social ventures via an end-to-end facilitation, starting with providing course materials, the competition (Challenge), mentoring and financial support. Teams travel to India, then spend the rest of the summer in residence at the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment, attending lectures and other training and working with mentors to launch their business.

This grant aids in developing, assessing and refining the content of the Acara Summer Institute; establishing processes that incorporate networks of mentors, funders and supporting companies in a structured fashion; and developing a plan for long-term institutional sustainability of the institute. In 2010, the institute aims to incubate at least two businesses.

Development of an Undergraduate Minor Specialization in Sustainable Global Health Design

University of Michigan, 2009 - $41,000

Globalization has increased the need for a socially aware, interdisciplinary workforce with intercultural competence. In order to satisfy both the needs of current employers and socially inclined undergraduate students, this grant is supporting the implementation a Specialization in Sustainable Global Health Design (GDH). Building on the new minor in multidisciplinary design infrastructure within the University of Michigan College of Engineering, the GDH Specialization will provide interdisciplinary undergraduate engineering students with an intense two-semester design course featuring project scoping, co-creation with the community it intends to serve, technology introduction, and re-design.

Students will have an opportunity to design and prototype sustainable products that address a significant health needs while simultaneously assessing social venture potential in the communities they are trying to serve.

Bio-architectural Design E-Teams for Biomedical Challenges

New Jersey Institute of Technology, 2009 - $30,000

This grant funds the redesign of the Biomedical Engineering year-long capstone course to include students from the Industrial Design program in the College of Architecture, which specializes in usability design.

Success in biomedical design solutions requires attention to both technical and usability design, which can be achieved through the integration of design and engineering. From a marketing perspective, a product must be both professional and aesthetically pleasing in addition to its quality and functionality. Merging engineering and design can bring about new perspectives on important biomedical problems and foster creative synergy from design efforts that are conducted jointly.

In Pursuit of Innovation

Lawrence University, 2009 - $23,000

Building on an NSF grant and a two year-old course in innovation, this grant will strengthen and expand the entrepreneurial activities coming out of this course. The existing program includes an entrepreneur-in-residence and the current course develops I-Teams (the "I" is for "innovation"). This grant will help stimulate the creation of E-Teams from the most promising student I-Teams at the conclusion of the course. Follow on activities will provide E-Teams with greater opportunities to commercialize their ventures.

The overall aim of their efforts is toprepare students to become contributors to a globally competitive American economy. This grant will enable faculty to make improvements to the course, give students better access to tools and materials for prototyping, participate in a nearby Fablab, and gain access to visiting experts and entrepreneurs.

Technology Entrepreneurship Initiative

Oklahoma State University, 2009 - $28,500

The grant helps expand the Technology Entrepreneurship Initiative (TEI), a university-wide accelerator model within the new School of Entrepreneurship at Oklahoma State. The purpose is to address the challenge of having a strong intellectual foundation for entrepreneurship.

A pilot version of the TEI program, joining entrepreneurship faculty, multidisciplinary students, and faculty researchers, showed success in fall 2009 with a focus on five promising technologies. This grant will formalize and expand the TEI program by increasing the number of technologies supported each year and including more graduate students from science, engineering, and other non-business departments. A new course entitled “Technology Commercialization Laboratory” will be created in which students will focus on assessing technologies from a commercial perspective, as well as the creation of feasibility studies and business plans.

Update:

As a result of this grant, several companies have been launched or are in the process of forming their ventures: Pristine Cal, Plasma Bio, Web Edge Sensor, Oversight -- Command and Control Security, and more.

 

Internationalizing Entrepreneurship Education Program (IEEP)

Pennsylvania State University, 2009 - $31,700

This grant supports the translation of the established Engineering Entrepreneurship minor from the Main Campus to the Penn State Berks campus. In the new program, called the Internationalizing Entrepreneurship Education Program (IEEP), students from Penn State Berks and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in Kenya will collaborate to create multidisciplinary, virtual E-Teams. The purpose of the student teams is to address issues of economic development locally and globally.

IEEP will build on The Children and Youth Empowerment Center, a program for former street children in Kenya that trains young people to become entrepreneurs using discarded electronics. Students will be placed in international and multidisciplinary teams, collaborating with JKUAT students to identify and develop safe and commercially viable uses for electronic waste. After setting up in Kenya, the second location for a similar green entrepreneurship initiative will be Reading, Pennsylvania where there is a large Latino population with high rates of unemployment and poverty.

Developing a Cross Discipline E-Team Service Learning Course

University of Wisconsin - Parkside, 2009 - $9,000

This grant seeks to redesign an existing entrepreneurship project course by integrating teams of science and business students in entrepreneurship projects. Once implemented, projects will come from these students as well as the regional businesses and the startup community. Students will be divided into cross-disciplinary E-Teams that will develop projects with an emphasis on market and technical feasibility as well as commercial potential.

Orpheus Medical

Stanford University School of Medicine, 2009 - $17,982

Hemorrhoids are blood-engorged enlargements around the anus that cause discomfort, pain, and bleeding. While more than thirteen million Americans suffer from hemorrhoids, most do not undergo treatment, because current treatments are either ineffective or extremely painful.

This E-Team is developing a device that is effective yet almost painless, and can be used outside the operating room, without anesthesia. The device, which is the size of an index finger, is inserted into the anus, whereupon a Doppler sensor in its tip locates the hemorrhoidal artery, which feeds the blood-filled hemorrhoid. The device then fires a staple-like clip that compresses the hemorhoidal artery, preventing blood flow to the hemorrhoid and causing the hemorrhoid to rapidly recede completely.

Operation Simple

Virginia Commonwealth University, 2009 - $16,700

Medical facilities in developing countries often lack adequate financial resources to purchase modern medical equipment. This is particularly the case with surgical tables, which can cost up to $80,000, far beyond the reach of local clinics. Instead, the clinics must rely on either wooden planks or outdated equipment.

This E-Team has designed a $500 surgical table for use in developing countries. Along with cost considerations, the design emphasizes portability through a collapsible design to minimize transportation requirements.

Developing and Testing a Novel Therapeutic Game for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Columbia University, 2009 - $20,000

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the fastest growing developmental disability in the US, with as many as 1.5 million Americans affected. The most common symptoms experienced by individuals affected with an ASD involve difficulties with social situations, verbal and non-verbal communication problems and understanding or displaying empathy. Children affected with an ASD often have unique and extreme preferences and aversions, making highly individualized care a necessity, yet comprehensive treatment is often prohibitively expensive.

To address the problem, this E-Team is developing a series of therapeutic computer games for autistic children between the age of 5 and 18. While other therapeutic video games are on the market, none are directed specifically toward autism and none allow for monitoring of in-game behavior and metrics, leading to customization of certain aspects of the game to suit the needs of the patient. The E-Team’s games will supplement existing treatment plans by providing individualized care outside of the treatment facility. The ultimate goal is improvement in social and communication skills.

UrbanE

University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign, 2009 - $18,500

Cities account for 75% of global energy consumption and 80% of carbon dioxide emissions while occupying only 2% of the world’s surface area. The average annual air temperature of cities with one million or more people can be 1.8-5.4°F warmer than its surroundings; this “heat island” effect increases summertime peak energy demand, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, air conditioning costs, and water quality.

Green roofing is a way for urban dwellers to reduce carbon dioxide levels, extend the lifespan of their rooftops, decrease water runoff into sewer systems, decrease the heat island effect and, lastly, to grow plants for food and beauty. But green roofing is expensive: between installation, plants, soil, filter, drainage and fabric, a green roof in the US can cost $50 per square foot before government subsidies. Most green roofing practices are also time- and labor-intensive, requiring months to install layers and even longer to cultivate the vegetation.

This E-Team is developing a different, modular approach to green roofing. By using modules, the team is looking to reduce the overall time and cost of installation. The modules also employ sub-irrigation wicking technologies allowing broader ranges of plants, even vegetables and herbs, to be grown on rooftops, balconies, or backyards.

DiverRx -- Preventing Recurrent Diverticulitis

DiverRx -- Preventing Recurrent Diverticulitis - $17,355

Diverticulitis is a disease characterized by the acute inflammation of a diverticulum (mucosal outpouching) of the colon. It’s accompanied by intense lower abdominal pain and requires emergency treatment, often involving hospitalization, with about 25% of these patients going on to have recurring attacks. The only treatment available to prevent recurrent attacks is colon resection, but many patients at risk for recurrence of diverticulitis are not surgical candidates due to advanced age or co-morbidities.

This E-Team is developing a device to address the clinical need of preventing recurrence of diverticulitis in a less invasive manner than elective colon resection. The device, an endoscopic RF ablation balloon catheter, will apply RF energy locally to the diverticular tissue, inducing a fibrotic response similar to that utilized by BARRX Medical in treating Barrett’s esophagus. The goal is to target diverticula for treatment while preserving healthy colon tissue.

The target market is relatively open (they’ve talked with several experts), with no prior minimally invasive methods or competitors that have successfully prevented recurrence of diverticulitis.

BioX-Design9

Stanford University School of Medicine, 2009 - $17,495

Over the last ten years, the number of patients seen in emergency departments (EDs) has grown rapidly, topping 120 million patients in 2008. Thus, efficient and accurate evaluation and diagnosis are essential to preventing overcrowding and ensuring high levels of patient care. Among the controllable causes of ED inefficiency, laboratory delays due in part to hemolysis are cited as one of the most prevalent and significant.

Hemolysis is the rupture of red blood cells and the release of their intracellular contents into a blood sample. It is by far the leading cause of unsuitable lab specimens, responsible for up to 70% of failed samples, and can delay the ED process by up to one hour: from drawing the blood to laboratory hemolysis analysis itself is approximately half an hour, and communicating the presence of hemolysis and redrawing the sample takes another half hour.

This E-Team is developing a user-friendly and cost-effective device that eliminates this delay. The device detects hemolysis of a blood draw immediately at the bedside, eliminating the delay associated with hemolyzed blood samples, thus increasing patient turnover in the emergency room, decreasing crowding, and increasing hospital revenue.

Medici Medical Technology

Duke University, 2009 - $11,850

Urinary incontinence (UI) affects twice as many women as men, primarily between the ages of 30-60, due to complications of childbirth, pregnancy and the configuration of the female urinary system. Despite the large number of women who suffer from UI, the current treatments are far from optimal, and no solution provides the control and convenience that patients need. Pharmacological therapies, pelvic muscle rehabilitation and surgery are most frequently used to treat UI. However, the non-invasive treatments (e.g., diapers) are stigmatized and uncomfortable. Surgical procedures are often ineffective, with failure rates as high at 50% for some treatments.

This E-Team, calling itself Medici Medical Technology, is developing two devices to treat stress UI in women. (The project started at an NCIIA funded program at Stanford). Stress UI is characterized by leakage that occurs during a quick (approximately one second) increase in pressure on the bladder during coughing, sneezing, hiking, sports or climbing stairs. The team’s time-delayed valve system addresses this issue by ensuring that such a short pulse of high pressure will not be sufficient to open the valves. However, when the patient does want to void, she can essentially do so normally by controlling the pressure in the abdomen for approximately three seconds, allowing each of the valves to open in series, one after another. Once all valves are open and urine is flowing, the patient will no longer need to bear down, as the pressure of the flow will keep the valves open. This device allows patients to regain their freedom and lifestyle by giving them back control of their own bodily functions while also providing convenience, requiring device changes only at each semi-annual checkup.

Cortical Concepts

Johns Hopkins University, 2009 - $20,000

The human spine is composed of vertically stacked vertebrae that form a protective canal for the spinal cord. Instability of the spine caused by vertebral fractures, deformities and other spinal disorders often requires surgical intervention, in which two metal screws are placed into parts of the vertebrae called pedicles and joined at adjacent vertebral levels with metal rods. However, patients with osteoporosis (and thus poor bone quality) are susceptible to screw pullout during the procedure. At the same time, osteoporotic patients stand to gain the most from the procedure.

Rather than reinvent the effective and well-established procedure of pedicle screw fixation, this E-Team is aiming to rebuild the strength of screw fixation in the pedicles by shifting the forces experienced by weak inner bone to strong outer bone. They call this method Corticoplasty™, and the device used in this approach will act as an intermediary between the bone-screw interface and provide a strong interference fit for existing screws in osteoporotic patients.

InSpiro

Johns Hopkins University, 2009 - $18,000

Every day as clinicians perform their morning rounds, patients are asked whether they have been using their incentive spirometer, an inexpensive bedside device that promotes deep breathing with a visual feedback mechanism. Current clinical protocol suggests performing deep breathing exercises using the incentive spirometers ten times per hour as a preventative measure to reduce postoperative pulmonary complications that include atelectasis, pneumonia, and bronchitis. As a testimony to their efficacy, incentive spirometers are provided to every single patient who undergoes general anesthesia. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to tell if a patient has actually been using the spirometer, forcing clinicians to rely on patient memory, which is neither objective nor accurate in the post-operative period.

This E-Team is designing an electronic, disposable incentive spirometer that will quantify when a patient uses it. The device is designed to allow hospital staff to monitor patient usage and lung capacity performance—features not possible with current embodiments. Ultimately, the team hopes to expand into the full spirometry market to help diagnose non-hospitalized patients for conditions such as pneumonia.

Fuel from the Fields

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2009 - $17,793

Cooking fuels are problematic in Haiti: while almost half of the population uses wood or agricultural residues as their primary cooking fuel, breathing the smoke from the fires leads to persistent respiratory lung infections, mostly in women and children. Most of the remainder of the population uses cleaner-burning wood charcoal, which can be prohibitively expensive (often 25% of a family’s income). Both options contribute to deforestation in a country that is already 98% deforested.

This E-Team, calling itself Fuel from the Fields, has developed a method over the last seven years of producing cleaner-burning, inexpensive charcoal made from agricultural waste. Supported by a number of grants from different organizations, the team has validated the viability of the technology and established three training centers and sixty workshops in Haiti producing charcoal for their own use and to sell. The team is now looking to establish centers for training, research, and business throughout Haiti (and eventually worldwide) that will teach farmers the process of making the charcoal, how to create micro-enterprises around the technology, how to innovate/improve on it, and document the technology’s influence.

Charcoal offers Haiti’s small farmers a way to create successful micro-businesses that produce alternative charcoal, generating new income and providing local employment opportunities while reducing deforestation and improving air pollution associated with cooking.

Lochlorine Chlorine Producer and Doser: Saving Lives Through Safe Water

University of California - Berkeley, 2009 - $20,000

Chlorination is a cheap and safe method to disinfect water that actively continues to disinfect for several days, unlike other methods that cannot guard against biological recontamination. Programs in the developing world using chlorination at the household level have seen water-borne illness decrease by 22-84%, but have faced logistical issues in reaching every home with a regular supply of chlorine and dosing errors that have led to under-chlorinated or over-chlorinated water. In Kenya, simple community chlorine dosers increased chlorine usage from 8-61%; however these dosers were limited in their ability to adapt to different volumes of water.

LoChlorine has developed two products, the LoChlorine Producer and LoChlorine Doser, both of which aim to safeguard family health by improving access to and the performance of chlorination. The LoChlorine Producer is a method that uses human power to produce chlorine locally that yields a reliable concentration of chlorine for pennies. The LoChlorine Doser is unique in its ability to automatically and appropriately dose arbitrary volumes of water. The design has no moving parts, uses no electricity, and could be mass-manufactured for less than ten dollars.

The team plans to implement the project initially in West Bengal, India, in partnership with the Aqua Welfare Society.

Building on Tradition: Indigenous Green Housing

University of Massachusetts - Lowell, 2009 - $44,625

This grant addresses the issue of designing and developing environmentally and culturally appropriate housing for Native Americans on reservations. Many people living on reservations have no electricity or running water, and use outhouses. Typical development approaches ignore their traditional housing practices (separate structures for cooking and sleeping) and are not welcomed by residents.

In collaboration with the Tohono O’odham Reservation in Arizona and Tohono O'odham Community College (TOCC), University of Massachusetts Lowell students have been designing and prototyping green housing innovations for several years. They have designed a modular green house made up of the three traditional separate structures (living/sleeping, kitchen, and bathroom modules). The house is made primarily with indigenous materials but also incorporates green building strategies such as passive solar cooling and heating, solar hot water, straw bale insulation, solar cookers, windmill water pumping, composting toilets, and more.

This grant extends the collaboration to develop business plans for an enterprise based around the technologies, as well as further designing and prototyping.

Affordable Universal Socket for Amputees in Third World Countries

Mercer University, 2009 - $37,275

In developing countries, especially post-war countries such as Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Laos, Iraq, and Haiti, amputees cannot afford the high price of prostheses, which ranges from $500 to several thousand dollars. This team is designing a new prosthetic socket—the Mercer Universal Socket, or MUS—that is cheaper and takes less time to fit to the amputee, helping reduce overall cost.

The MUS is designed for adults and has small, medium and large sizes. Inside the socket, three silicon rings minimize pressure at the distal stump and help prevent pressure ulcers from forming. The cost per unit is estimated at $20, with manufacturing and distribution taking place in Vietnam through the Mercer on Mission program.

Update:

Team on it's way to Haiti (news coverage) (April 2010)

Flexible Ad hoc Networks for Scarce Environments

Georgia Institute of Technology, 2009 - $44,053

There is a gap in the world today between people with access to digital and information technology (in developed countries) and those without (in developing countries). Connectivity has been an issue in the developing world for a number of reasons, including unfavorable government policies, corruption, illiteracy and computer illiteracy, lack of infrastructure, and cultural norms. Generic solutions to these problems tend not to work well; solutions need to be scalable, inter-operable, replicable, and flexible enough to allow the inclusion of scenario-specific details.

In order to overcome the lack of connectivity in developing regions, this team proposes to develop MyMANET, a software framework for MANETs (Mobile Ad-hoc NETworks), which are infrastructure-less wireless networks that can cover a few kilometers in diameter. Every consumer device in a MANET (a cell phone, a PC) acts as a host and router at the same time, bringing flexibility and robustness to the network, without the need for infrastructure such as towers or base stations. Both capital and recurrent costs are low, making MyMANET a plausible proposition for connectivity in developing areas.

Enabling Effective Management of Neonatal Jaundice in Rural India

Stanford University, 2009 - $46,500

If left untreated, neonatal jaundice can cause kernicterus, a form of brain damage with complications including deafness, cerebral palsy, and death. In the US, phototherapy treatment (shining wavelength-specific light on the baby) has virtually eliminated kernicterus, but in developing countries like India only a small segment of the population has access to effective treatment.

In order to improve patient access to neonatal jaundice treatment in rural Indian clinics, this team - working with the non-profit technology incubator, Design Revolution - is developing a low cost, low maintenance opto-medical device. Instead of using fluorescent tube or compact fluorescent bulbs, the team’s device uses more efficient, high-intensity blue LEDs that can be supported by a battery backup.

Updates

  • Brilliance in India: New deal allows Bay-area firm to fight neonatal jaundice in rural India - Fast Company (Jan 2011)
  • September 2012: Brilliance is on the market in India and they are looking to expand to East Africa. The team estimates that 13 babies per device per month will get treatment in urban hospitals, which means lives saved and brain damage averted. 

Cycle Ventures: The Rickshaw Bank Partnership

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2009 - $46,200

Cycle Ventures, one of nine “D-Lab” classes at MIT, has a specific focus on creating pedal-powered innovations for international development. The Rickshaw Bank (TRB), formed in 2004, is a micro-credit organization in India that lets people lease-to-own rickshaws, usually in one to two years. This grant will fund a partnership between Cycle Ventures and TRB, with the goal of making TRB’s rickshaws cheaper, easier for the driver to pedal, and more attractive to customers. The team has identified three technical areas to focus on: the overall rickshaw structure; adding a suspension element to the frame; and improving the drive train. Over the course of two years the team will conduct overlapping waves of site visits, design, prototyping, and implementation.

Sustainable Venture Accelerator

Colorado State University, 2009 - $48,825

Student entrepreneurs in Colorado State University’s Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise program build sustainable ventures with a focus on an integrated bottom line. But, since these types of ventures can require a lot of time to develop before securing financial support, several of the program’s ventures have ceased to exist due to financial, time and other development pressures. In order to help sustainability-focused student ventures actually become successful businesses or organizations as students complete their studies, this grant will help launch the Sustainable Venture Accelerator (SVA) at Colorado State University. SVA’s three main objectives are to: engage outside specialists as Entrepreneurs in Residence to mentor SVA businesses; develop a network to help advance ventures; and provide space and resources. The long-term goal is for SVA to be sustained by taking equity interest in the student start-ups it supports.

Improved Rural Health Care Through Low-Cost Telecommunication in Waslala, Nicaragua

Villanova University, 2009 - $44,625

Accessing quality health care in rugged, mountainous areas like the communities surrounding Waslala, Nicaragua is a difficult challenge. About 10,000 people live in the town of Waslala itself, while 35,000 live in the 85 isolated rural communities surrounding it. While the town has a small hospital with full-time staff, residents of the rural areas can obtain health care only at clinic outposts from lay health workers with minimal experience and few supplies. If there is an emergency, the hospital is hours away on poor roads.

In order to make quality health care more accessible in the Waslala region, this team of students and faculty is developing cell phone-based technology for transmitting basic patient data in the form of coded text messaging from a rural health care worker to a central clinic for a trained health care provider to review. The doctor or nurse can then text back treatment suggestions for the health care worker to implement.

GlobalResolve: Development of the Twig Light

Arizona State University, 2009 - $16,000

GlobalResolve (GR) is a program at Arizona State that starts village-based ventures in developing countries by introducing sustainable technologies that address economic and health issues. One of those technologies is the Twig Light, a low-cost, sustainable light source. It consists of a wafer-type thermoelectric generator sandwiched between the upper and lower portions of a small box. The upper section is a small combustion chamber in which the user puts small pieces of wood (twigs) to be burned. The lower section sits on the ground or in a few centimeters of water. When the burning wood heats the upper chamber, the temperature difference between the two sections powers the thermoelectric generator, which powers the lights.

An alpha prototype has been developed and tested. With NCIIA funding the team will refine the Twig Light design, test it again, and distribute twenty prototypes to villages in Malawi and Ghana where they’ve worked previously. After a year of field testing they’ll interview villagers about the light, develop a final design, and establish manufacturing capability and supply chains in Malawi and Ghana.

Updates

In 2010, the Twig Light team established a company, Daylight Solutions, LLC.   Ghanaian partners include one company (Amstar Inc.), an NGO (The Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development, CEESD) and Nana Afaokwa, the paramount chief of the Domeabra region in Ghana.

The students in Ghana have formed an NGO (The Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development, CEESD)

The project is moving from the research phase into a venture with the Ghanaian partners. The first 100 commercial prototypes will be manufactured in the US to perfect the process, possibly this year, in a manufacturing cell consisting of micro-CNC equipment. This cell will either be shipped to Ghana or replicated in that country. The initial manufacturing location will be in Domeabra, a village near Kumasi. Plans are to expand to Cameroon and Kenya in a year.

Story about Twiglight

Engineering for Change (Nov 2010)

 

 

 

Development of a Dynamic EUS Needle: Improving the efficacy of endoscopic needle and noninvasive surgical procedures

University of Virginia, 2009 - $19,900

Advancements in endoscopic technology have significantly widened the scope of possible procedures, going from being able to just look inside the body to being able stage cancer, drain pseudocysts and more. But, despite the success of endoscopic technology, doctors often have to remove one device and insert another one each time a new function is needed, whether it be electrocautery, stent deployment or fine needle aspiration. This E-Team is developing a new multifunctional endoscopic needle that will consolidate devices, ultimately reducing waste and procedure time. The team’s needle would be dynamic, allowing the physician to begin a procedure with a small diameter needle to locate and reach a lesion, then further explore or alleviate the lesion by increasing the needle diameter during the procedure. The internal diameter of the needle device would remain large enough to allow simultaneous use of other devices, such as a stent or cautery device, increasing the doctor’s procedural capacity without requiring the removal of the initial device.

Dairy Pasteurization for Rural Peru

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2009 - $16,000

Many families in rural Peru make yogurt and cheeses, but, due to a lack of pasteurization equipment and sanitation controls, they can’t legally sell their products in a larger market. Instead, they eat the food themselves or trade with neighbors. Building on prior work in the region and working closely with students from the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Peru (PUCP), this E-Team is developing affordable and easy-to-use pasteurization equipment for rural families in Peru. The need for this project comes directly from the villagers themselves, having spoken with team members while implementing a Sustainable Vision-funded project to install green homes in rural Peru. The region of Cusco is the top tourist site in the country, but the villagers have no way of getting their products certified so they can be sold to tourists. The team’s gravity-fed pasteurizer will work by causing milk to flow from an upper pan through tubing submerged in a boiling water bath. The milk flowing through the tubing should reach the appropriate temperature to kill a sufficient number of bacteria. The team, consisting of students from RPI and PUCP, has been investigating the local market. With NCIIA funding they will develop and test a pasteurizer, make sure that dairy products made using the device can achieve certification, and work with microfinance organizations to make the device available for purchase.

OsmoPure

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2009 - $10,500

This E-Team is developing OsmoPure, a low-cost water purification device for developing countries based on simple membrane filtration technology. While there are a number of water filtration devices being marketed to the poor, many of them don’t work in murky water (they get easily clogged), often require a large energy input in order to work (e.g., hand pumping), and fail to remove all contaminants. OsmoPure is a compact, cartridge-based, multi-stage water purification system. To produce potable water, the user fills a plastic bottle with dirty water, screws on the purifier like you would screw on a cap and squeezes the bottle to dispense clean water. When the filter looks dirty, the user simply shakes the fluid inside to remove debris. The purifiers are meant for plastic bottles that exist currently as rubbish in the target areas, cutting production and distribution costs and creating an environmentally friendly solution to the global water crisis.

Updates:

OsmoPure wins $100,000 at MassChallenge (Nov. 2010)

Fast Company story (Dec. 2010)

Reverse Engineering Bicycles to Develop New Businesses, Products and Increased Income for the Metalworking and Agriculture Industries in Lebialem (Cameroon)

San Jose State University, 2009 - $20,000

Follow the project!

This E-Team is looking to solve three interrelated problems in Lebialem, Cameroon with products derived from bicycle parts. Most people in Lebialem earn two dollars a day, primarily from agriculture, which requires people to walk 20-40 kilometers to get to market, bringing only what they can carry. Houses aren’t electrified, which makes nighttime activities like studying more difficult. And while there’s a longstanding metalworking industry in the region, it’s currently on the decline. The team proposes three products, derived mostly from old bicycles, to help stimulate the metalworking industry and overcome the first two problems:

  • The River Light: a small hydrokinetic device that charges portable LEDs (home lighting)
  • The Side Cart: a side-cart for a bicycle to increase carrying capacity when going to market
  • The Universal Connector: a steel joint that can be the central unit for other products

The team has developed several iterations of prototypes of each of the three products. They’ve partnered with specialists from the cycling industry (Specialized Bicycles) and a Lebialem community group. With NCIIA funding the team will build third-generation prototypes, travel to Lebialem to do user testing and meet with metalworkers, build final prototypes, and start manufacturing in Lebialem.

Optimization of a Novel Device to Measure the Intrinsic Muscles of the Hand

Rice University, 2009 - $13,200

Testing a person’s intrinsic hand muscle strength (IMHS) is helpful in diagnosing a number of health problems, from arthritis to diabetes to nerve injuries. The manual muscle test (MMT) is the most common clinical test to assess IMHS, but tends toward low validity, poor reliability and inherent subjectivity. There are a few other devices on the market, but all demand extensive clinician involvement and/or fail to isolate the intrinsic muscles, leading to errors. This E-Team is developing the Peg Restrained Intrinsic Muscle Evaluator (PRIME), a device that can comfortably and accurately measure IMHS for a wide range of hand types and sizes. It consists of a pegboard base, a force transducer enclosure and a display unit.

Magnetic Ventures

University of Michigan, 2009 - $16,700

Artificial knee and hip replacement surgeries are common today, with the majority of the implants using a plastic-on-metal joint interface. Unfortunately, plastic-on-metal joints are only temporary solutions, as most implants last 10-15 years before needing a second surgery to replace the worn device. This E-Team, incorporated as Magnetic Ventures, is looking to help joint replacements last longer with the Magnetically Assisted Artificial Joint, a patent-pending technology that lowers the contact stress at the joint interface through the use of magnets. The technology operates on a similar conceptual basis as MagLev trains, which utilize electromagnetic forces to lower friction between the train and track; as a MagLev track experiences a constant load from the train, the magnetic field needed to lift the train is constant. The team’s device uses an elastic material to control the distance between magnets in the joints and adjust the magnetic force; as the force in the joint increases, the magnets are pushed closer together, lowering the interface force and decreasing friction in the joint. The team has written a business plan, won several local business plan competitions, and developed and patented a prototype. With NCIIA funding they will test biocompatible elastic materials that would be used in their device, analyze various arrangements of magnets, and develop their network.

A Medical Device to Treat Gallstone Disease

Stanford University, 2009 - $18,968

Biliary colic is a condition in which a gallstone becomes lodged at the gallbladder outlet, and, if left untreated, can cause severe and life-threatening infections. The most common treatment for this disease is surgical removal of the gallbladder, but due to a high risk of complications in the elderly and critically ill, surgery is not a viable option for over 200,000 patients per year. Instead, they're treated with conservative management, which is often unsuccessful. This E-Team is looking to develop a safe and effective alternative for these patients, as well as the large numbers of patients in developing countries where surgery isn’t an option. Since the gallbladder in patients with stones is actually normal and the stones are harmless provided they are kept away from the outlet, the team has developed a novel stainless steel filter device to prevent stones from reaching the outlet. The filter is delivered through a catheter and expands after deployment. Radial force holds the filter in place. The geometry of the filter prevents stones larger than two millimeters from passing.

Automating Long-Range Vibrometry Through Vision and Web Technologies

City College of New York, 2009 - $18,144

Laser Doppler Vibrometers (LDVs) are sensors capable of detecting very small amounts of vibration from far away (100 meters or more). LDVs are used in bridge and building safety inspections, since structural defects give out small vibration signals, as well as in the automotive, aerospace, medical and industrial testing industries. The problem is that all current LDVs are manually operated, and it can take some time to find an appropriate reflective surface, focus the laser beam and get a vibration signal. This E-Team is developing a method to automate LDVs. The team's system, which involves hardware, software, and a web component, automatically selects a surface, tracks and focuses. The web component allows users to control the system remotely.

The team has filed a provisional patent and partnered with Polytec, an LDV company. With NCIIA funding they will build and test a working prototype, file for more patent protection, and look to pursue licensing with Polytec or other LDV manufacturers.

AYZH: Sheba Water Filter

Colorado State University, 2009 - $16,700

AYZH offers two products for resale by women entrepreneurs in developing markets:

  • Sheba Water Filter, a household water filter to provide high quality drinking water at a low cost
  • Clean Delivery Birth Kit: A hygiene kit for rural midwives to deliver babies for post natal health
     

     

Sheba is an innovative, low cost household water filter targeted specifically at women in rural Indian communities. It consists of a stacking system in which cloth bags filled with filter media (sand, gravel, ceramic, etc.) can be added and removed according to need. This design overcomes three problems with current water filters: slow rate of filtration, difficulty in cleaning filters, and difficulty in adapting filters to regional and seasonal variations in water.

Sheba was created in the International Developing Design Summit at MIT in 2007. Since then, the team has worked on prototyping the device. With NCIIA funding the team will further refine the design, test it in India, perform market research, re-design, and launch.

More

Now a non-profit called AYZH. Won a World Healthcare Congress award in 2011.

DayOne Response: Polytech Waterbag, Water Treatment for Disaster Relief

California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo, 2009 - $20,000

The Polytech Waterbag is a water filtration bag with disinfectant to be used in disaster relief situations. Developed and marketed by DayOne Response, the Waterbag will be sold to relief organizations and governments.
 

Providing people with clean drinking water is the one of the biggest challenges following a natural disaster. The most common solution is having aid agencies and governments deliver large five-gallon jugs of water, which is a costly and slow undertaking. Other solutions (hand-pumped filters, chlorine tablets) are either too expensive or only partially effective at treating contaminated water. This E-Team is developing a new way to ensure people have access to safe drinking water after a disaster: the Polytech Waterbag (PW). The PW is a ten-liter plastic bladder equipped with carrying straps and an integrated filter with a dispensing port. It’s designed to be used with Procter & Gamble’s PUR® chemical treatment packets; by using the packet along with the filter, complete water purification can be achieved. The PW comes with other features as well: a wide mouth for easy filling in shallow streams, a sediment trap to prevent recontamination, and more. The bags are 20x more compact than five-gallon water jugs to ship, and can treat enough water to supply a family of four for 5-10 days. The team has developed and patented a prototype, participated in and won several business plan competitions, and worked with Clinton Global Initiative project.

In 18 short months, NCIIA E-Team DayOne Response has moved from a student team with a cool idea to a company with a disaster-relief product being field tested by the US and Thai Marine Corps. Here's the story in pictures:

Quick facts:

May 2009: awarded a $20K E-Team grant.

Nov. 2009: attended Advanced I2V workshop to develop business strategy.

March 2010: showcased the waterbag at Open Minds.

April 2010: incorporated as DayOne Response, and wins a contract with the US Navy to continue R&D on the waterbag via a joint technology exercise between the US and Thai Marines. The waterbag was one of the few technologies in that exercise to meet US military objectives for Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief missions.

More:

From Cal Poly Engineering News: Alum makes her project her career

 

 

 

Solar Ease

University of Pittsburgh, 2009 - $20,000

While solar energy is an attractive option to provide the green energy of the future, it remains burdened by high installation costs and hasn’t been as widely adopted as it should be. Part of the problem is the physical process of installation: solar panels require mounting brackets, outside breakers and ground connections, and holes through walls for the wires. This E-Team is looking to reduce the cost of installing solar panels by developing a method to transmit solar energy wirelessly from outdoor solar panels to an indoor storage unit. The team is building on a novel wireless technology called WiTricity, which is capable of transmitting energy through walls without direct cable connections. With NCIIA funding the team will create a proof-of-concept prototype, research target markets and applications for the technology, and move toward commercialization by writing a business plan and securing IP.

MedGadget.com: Collegiate biomed engineering prizes awarded

A lab without walls, a single-point incision tool, and a vitamin D biosensor. MedGadget.com reports on the 2009 BMEidea winners!

 

 

 

SurgiSIL does it Again: ASME Innovation Showcase Winners Announced

Last week they won the second place award (and $2,500) at NCIIA's BMEidea biomedical engineering competition in New York. A couple of days later, the University of Cincinnati's SurgiSIL team picked up third place and another $5,000 at the ASME Innovation Showcase, held in Palm Desert, CA.

The winners were:

1st place ($10,000) - Rice University's PRIME team

2nd place ($7,000) - MIT's Solar ORC team

3rd place ($5,000) - University of Cincinnati's SurgiSIL team.

Stanford 'Lab-on-a-Stick' Team wins BMEidea 2009!

The 'Lab-on-a Stick' team from Stanford University has won this year's BMEidea (biomedical engineering) competition, taking away a cash prize of $10,000. Teams from the University of Cincinatti and Brown University were second and third. The winners were announced at today's Medical Design Excellence Awards ceremony in New York.

Read more about the winners!


2009 BMEidea Winners

Stanford University 'Lab-on-a-Stick' Team wins BMEidea 2009! 

The winners of the 2009 BMEidea Awards were announced June 10, at the Medical Design Excellence Awards ceremony in New York.

First place, winning $10,000: 

Lab-on-a-Stick (Stanford University)
Diagnostic technology without a lab

Driven by the need for highly sensitive and specific protein detection, nanotechnology researchers have recently focused on the nanoscale for accurate measuring of molecular events. While using nanotechnology in protein detection platforms is easy to implement in a lab setting, rapid diagnostics are less easy to perform at a patient’s bedside, in the developing world, or even with over-the-counter products. Lab-on-a- Stick seeks to bridge the divide between the United States and the developing world by introducing sensitive molecular testing that may be removed from a traditional central- lab model. Lab-on-a-Stick uses Giant magnetoresistive (GMR) devices to detect virtually any infectious disease—from HIV/AIDS to Hepatitis C to tuberculosis—in a rapid wash-free format.  Patients in need of a rapid diagnosis (results are available in an average of fifteen minutes) need only to swab the insides of their cheeks with a disposable “stick,” pre-treated with assorted protein receptors, and scan that stick with the handheld GMR device. This cost-effective technology addresses the need for more accessible nanotechnology diagnostics outside the laboratory, and seeks to replace the need for diagnostic labs completely.

 

Second place, winning $2,500:

Single Port solutions: The SurgiSIL (University of Cincinnati)

A new access tool that allows surgeons to perform laparoscopic procedures through one incision

Traditional laparoscopic surgery requires four to five incisions, increasing trauma, recovery time, and visible scarring to the patient.  The SurgiSIL accommodates multiple instruments through one working channel while still providing increased access within the abdominal cavity.  Ease of use is further characterized by a simple insertion technique, yet another benefit not offered by current single port products.  The SurgiSIL answers the challenges of single port surgery and ultimately presents an improved option for patient care by decreasing trauma, recovery time, and risk for herniation, which is a painful and costly corrective procedure.  The end result to the patient is a hidden scar within the belly button.  The SurgiSIL redefines the single port approach, enabling surgeons to meet the demands for improved patient care.

 

Third place, winning $1,000:

A Novel Biosensor to Measure Vitamin D Levels in Serum (Brown University)

An affordable and accurate method of testing vitamin D levels

Current research has linked vitamin D deficiencies to a number of health conditions, including osteoporosis, autoimmune diseases and cancer.  But while the demand for vitamin D testing is increasing, current tests are expensive, take too long and are often inaccurate.  The Brown University team has proposed a method of measuring vitamin D using electrochemical detection technology similar to a commercial glucose meter. The affordable, hand-held device will use a disposable testing strip inserted into the device along with a sub-microliter blood sample, which will be analyzed for levels of vitamin D present. Results will be displayed qualitatively and quantitatively on a liquid crystal display almost instantly.

What the 2009 winners were doing 1.5 years after the competition

About BMEidea
The teams' entries were evaluated by judges drawn from academia and industry. Winning entries must solve a clinical problem; meet technical, economic, legal, and regulatory requirements; feature novel and practical designs; and show potential for commercialization. Submissions are judged on technical feasibility, clinical utility, economic feasibility and market potential, novelty and patentability, potential for commercialization and benefit to quality of life and care.

Prizes include cash awards in the amount of $10,000 (first prize), $2,500 (second prize), and $1,000 (third prize), and product development and commercialization resources and training.

The 2010 competition will open in September 2009.

 

Selected media coverage

Big Ideas Come from University Students (devicelink.com)

Collegiate Biomed Engineering Prizes Awarded (MedGadget.com) 

University of Cincinnati Health News 

The material contained within this webpage is based in part upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant #0602484. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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