Press Release: BMEidea 2014 Winners Announced


 Contact: Jo Ellen Warner

Director of Communications

National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance

(mobile) 202-420-9297 /


National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance Announces

Winners of 2014 BMEidea Competition

Winning teams from Northwestern University, MIT, and Stanford University; profiles of the innovators and products available at  

NEW YORK—June 11, 2014—The National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) this evening announced the winners of its annual Biomedical Engineering Innovations, Design, and Entrepreneurship Awards (BMEidea). The awards were presented at the 16th annual Medical Design Excellence Awards (MDEAwards) Ceremony at the MD&M East Medical Device Trade Show and Convention in New York.

Supported by The Lemelson Foundation, the BMEidea competition recognizes the best and the brightest in student-driven, innovative biomedical engineering design with high commercial potential and social impact. First held in 2004, winners of this annual competition are selected from some of the nation’s top biomedical engineering departments and are judged by a panel of faculty and industry experts. Winning entries solve a clinical problem; meet technical, economic, legal and regulatory requirements; feature novel and practical designs; and show strong potential for commercialization. Prizes include cash awards of $10,000 (first prize), $5,000 (second prize), and $2,500 (third prize), as well as product development, commercialization resources and training.

“All three winning devices have the potential to improve healthcare on a large scale. The creativity, dedication and entrepreneurial spirit of these emerging innovators demonstrates the mindset that NCIIA is trying to cultivate on campuses nationwide," said Phil Weilerstein, executive director, NCIIA.

First place team from Northwestern University—Innoblative Designs

Composed of Tyler Graf, Dan McCarthy, Adam Piotrowski, Brian Robillard, Jason Sandler, Curtis Wang and Tyler Wanke, Innoblative Designs is developing a device that will reduce treatment time and cost and increase safety for breast cancer surgery patients. Breast cancer is typically treated by a lumpectomy to remove the tumor, followed by a long series of radiation treatments. Studies show as many as 30% of women undergoing radiation therapy for breast cancer do not complete treatment and are more susceptible to cancer recurrence. Innoblative's device is designed to be used during surgery, destroying cancer cells immediately and reducing the need for post-surgical radiation therapy.

Second place team from MIT—Recon Therapeutics

Some common medications like insulin can be freeze-dried, which increases the drug's life span, but has a drawback: the patient has to reconstitute the drug before injecting it. The current reconstitution process is inconvenient and complex, leading to frequent mistakes and decreased patient compliance. Recon Therapeutics, consisting of Christopher Lee, Ben Maimon and Ho-Jun Suk is developing a drug delivery device, called the LyoKit, that makes reconstitution easier. The LyoKit couples a standard off-the-shelf syringe with a pressurized water chamber, resulting in a simple one-step reconstitution process. 

Third place team from Stanford University—Minimally-Invasive Toroid System (MITS)

The Minimally-Invasive Toroid Systems (MITS) team, consisting of Tiffany Chao, Nick Damiano, Shreya Mehta, and John Woock is developing a non-surgical solution for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH. BPH is the most common cause of obstructive urinary symptoms and progresses with age. Current treatments are not durable and have considerable side effects. The MITS team's device, which consists of a set of permanent urethral expanders that “prop open” the urethra to allow for urination and relief of BPH symptoms, is designed to offer long-term relief without the drawbacks of previous treatment options.


The NCIIA organizes two annual biomedical engineering competitions for university students. BMEidea is open to all graduate and undergraduate teams while BMEStart is open to undergraduate teams only. Both competitions will begin accepting applications for next year’s competition in September 2014. Teams can apply at



About National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA):

The NCIIA catalyzes positive social and environmental impact through invention and technological innovation by providing funding, training and mentoring for university faculty and student innovators. With support from The Lemelson Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Agency for International Development and a membership of nearly 200 colleges and universities from all over the United States, the NCIIA engages approximately 5,000 student entrepreneurs each year, leveraging their campuses as working laboratories for invention and innovation and incubators for businesses, and ultimately helping them to bring their ideas to market. For more information, visit

About The Lemelson Foundation:

The Lemelson Foundation uses the power of invention to improve lives, by inspiring and enabling the next generation of inventors and invention based enterprises to promote economic growth in the U.S. and social and economic progress for the poor in developing countries. Established by prolific U.S. inventor Jerome Lemelson and his wife Dorothy in 1992, to date the Foundation has provided or committed more than $175 million in grants and program-related investments in support of its mission. For more information, visit

# # #

Fall 2012 Stage 1 E-Team grantees

Meet our newest E-Team innovators

This fall, NCIIA selected fourteen teams from twelve universities to participate in the E-Team Program. The program provides $5,000 of funding to attend a three-day VentureLab strategy mapping workshop where teams work on developing a sustainable business model. Teams selected represent biotech, clean tech and technology for low-resource settings.

Calcula Technologies (Stanford University)
A novel, in-office treatment for the removal of kidney stones.

Integrated Punch Biopsy Kit (Johns Hopkins University)
An all-in-one skin biopsy device that efficiently and safely transects and retrieves a skin sample.

IV DRIP: Dehydration Relief in Pediatrics (Rice University)
A simple volume regulator for IV drips that helps prevent overhydration.

Kinvolved: Leveraging the Intersection of Technology and Policy to Improve Educational Outcomes (New York University)
A web app for school systems that teachers use to collect, analyze, and communicate student attendance information to parents and families in real time.

Ligadon (University of Utah)
A more effective solution for ligament and tendon recombination surgeries.

Loci Controls (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
An automated system to optimize the collection of landfill gas, then turn the captured methane into an energy source.

Nutrient Recovery & Upcycling (NRU), LLC (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
A technology to recover high-grade phosphorous from wastewater for use in agriculture and industry.

OncoFilter: Bringing the Cancer Detection Kit Home (Ohio State University)
An easy-to-use detection kit which identifies certain forms of cancer.

PharmaCheck (Boston University)
A device to quickly and accurately screen medicines in the developing world to find out whether or not they're counterfeit.

QDSpec (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
A potentially revolutionary new spectrometer that can be made as small as an ant and as cheap as a few dollars.

RetiCue (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
A portable, eye-worn imaging device that quickly assesses the condition of a patient’s retina.

Rural Trade Communications (University of Colorado at Boulder)
An off the grid communicationplatform, supported by subscription fees, that will allow direct communication between farmers, transportation providers and end users.

OceanComm (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
A wireless modem to enable better communication between unmanned, underwater mining machines and their human operators on the surface.

Vitalnx (Vanderbilt University)
A monitor, located inside a trauma patient’s IV line, that provides early indicators of tissue shock, shortening the time to advanced resuscitation.

Nursing Home of the Future


NCIIA's Nursing Home of the Future: a partnership with Johns Hopkins University

The aging of the Boomer generation has hardly gone un-noticed, with companies rushing to meet the needs of this segment of society.  One area that remains a challenge is how to meet the healthcare needs of this demographic as they age, and how do nursing homes and assisted living adjust to the shifts in expectation and lifestyle presented by this group. In addition, delivering healthcare into the homes of the aging boomer population and developing products and services that allow the boomer generation to stay at home, longer, safely, and without shifting the burden of care unduly to family, present unique challenges and opportunities.

NCIIA's IdeaLab

IdeaLab provides a transformational entrepreneurial experience to undergraduate and graduate students while creating solutions and capitalizing on opportunities to address far-reaching societal challenges. 

Over five days, 50 selected students will immerse themselves in the entrepreneurial process and use it to develop solutions to problems confronting the challenge faced by providing elderly care to the boomer generation; they will engage in intense brainstorming around solutions; and produce commercialization plans for new products and services by the end of the week.

The program will use curated public domain information about the challenge this aging population presents in terms of prevision of healthcare along with the vast informational resource offered by In addition the work undertaken by the Business Innovation Factory of Providence Rhode Island on Nursing Home of the Future, which can be found here, will also be incorporated.

Relevant industry partners will be sought and will serve as judges at the end of the week to award seed funding to the most promising ideas. The expectation is that a number of the student teams that will form during IdeaLab will work over the ensuing year to bring their ideas to the marketplace.

To get involved, contact James Barlow at Read more about this new program here.


Advancing biomedical innovation

This week, NCIIA announced the 2011 winners of the sixth annual Biomedical Engineering Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship competition competition.

1st place, winning $10,000: Magneto: Magnetic Induction Internal Bleed Detector team from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

This device allows detection of internal bleeding complications after catheterization procedures through the femoral artery.

Read more about the winners.

Some of NCIIA's important innovations

Intelliject - the Epicard

  • Funded in 2000
  • Innovation: an automatic epinephrine injecting system that is credit-card sized and easy to use.
  • Company: Intelliject. In 2009, the company announced an exclusive license worth $230 million with Sanofi-aventis U.S.


  • Second place 2008 NCIIA BMEidea Awards
  • A new access tool that allows surgeons to perform laparoscopic procedures through one incision

Antenatal Screening Kit

Rapid Hypothermia Induction Device

  • Won 2010 BMEIdea Awards cash prize of $10,000
  • Innovation: a device that EMT personnel can use to  administer a therapeutic hypothermia treatment to cardiac arrest victims, to greatly improve their chances of survival upon reaching hospital.


Accelerating university innovations: Funded by NCIIA in 2002, The MarrowMiner has revolutionized the harvesting of bone marrow and the stem cells bone marrow contains. Inventor Daniel Kraft described the MarrowMiner on TED.










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.

Matrix NMR

Purdue University, 2001 - $16,000

Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is an analytical tool for analyzing the molecular structure of a sample, including chemicals such as drugs, peptides, aromatic molecules, pesticides, food additives, and others. NMR experiments analyze complex samples such as blood and urine and help determine chemical information. NMR sets the standard for the analysis of new chemicals because it obtains different information from each atom in a sample with a nucleus-specific system. Though useful, slow speeds and high costs make NMR not commercially viable for some industries.

To remedy these problems, this E-Team from Purdue, comprised of three analytical chemistry Ph.D. candidates and a graduate researcher in the Technology Transfer Initiative, aimed to offer customers an improved NMR probe that significantly reduces the cost and time needed to perform NMR analysis. Instead of testing each sample serially, this team's technology tested them simultaneously. In addition, the technology required a smaller sample size.

E-Team to Develop an Oxygen Flow Indicator for Hospital Transport

University of Pittsburgh, 2001 - $13,085

The Center for Critical Care Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh discovered that some patients experience decompensation during transport while on oxygen support. Decompensation is a life-threatening problem that occurs when a patient's oxygen supply tubing develops a kink or when oxygen depletes within the storage cylinders. No device exists to indicate the flow of oxygen through a patient's tube. In fact, the only current method of determining if a patient is experiencing decompensation is to see if their face turns blue.

In response to this need for an oxygen flow monitor, this E-Team developed the Spindicator, a device made up of a cylindrical tube, an inline impeller, and gas inlet/outlet. Oxygen flowing through the tube forces the impeller to spin. To make impeller monitoring easy, the team painted the impeller two distinct colors that a person can detect from a minimum of six feet away. If the device fails, the inline impeller design facilitates oxygen flow to the patient. The Spindicator attaches to the nasal attachment or face mask just below the patient's face.

At a preliminary survey at the UPMC Presbyterian Hospital, 72% of those surveyed expressed extreme support of the product. Across the US, about 1,500 hospitals need to provide oxygen to approximately sixty-six million patients. If the Spindicator sold for $5 to $10, hospitals would pay only $250,000 to $440,000 each year for the product.

The team originated from a NCIIA-funded class, Product Realization. Three undergraduate students, with skills in mechanical and industrial engineering, worked on the team. They worked with four engineering school advisors and two medical/industry advisors. One of these advisors is a doctor from UPMC Presbyterian and headed the clinical trial for Spindicator.

An E-Team to Develop an Image Quality Analyzer for Endoscopes and Laparoscopes

University of Pittsburgh, 2001 - $13,000

According to the American Hospital Association, there are 6,400 hospitals in the US, and most of them own endoscopic equipment. Endoscopes and laparoscopes are narrow, tube-shaped optical devices that allow surgeons to see inside a patient's body without making incisions. The devices minimize trauma in surgery and therefore shorten patient recovery time. However, scope performance depends on the image quality they deliver, and many factors contribute to image quality deterioration, including collision with alien objects, poor maintenance, and the heat and chemicals used in cleaning and sterilization procedures. Currently, hospitals have no tool to ensure scope performance by evaluating and monitoring image quality.

To fill this need, this E-Team developed an image quality analyzer that facilitates efficient and automatic evaluation of the image quality of scopes. With the analyzer, hospitals can ensure the quality of endoscopic surgery and track the performance of scopes over time. Performance data shows optimal maintenance procedures and when replacement is necessary.

The E-Team consisted of two graduate students in engineering. They worked with an industrial engineering faculty member and the director of minimal invasive surgery at the Magee-Women's Hospital in Pittsburgh.

Improved Foot Sensor

Johns Hopkins University, 2001 - $8,200

Roughly 1.4 million lower extremity fractures, including 950,000 to the ankle, occur annually in the US. The majority of these musculoskeletal injuries require some type of physical therapy. Because the total cost involved in diagnosis, surgery, or rehabilitation of such injuries amounts to billions of dollars, this E-Team from John Hopkins University developed a low-cost foot sensor that aids patients in recovery.

Research shows that patients recover faster with limited weight-bearing programs, but gauging how much pressure to apply to the injury before doing harm is difficult. The team's foot sensor measured the pressure and alerted patients if they put too much pressure on their injury. Patients could adjust the pressure threshold according to the nature of the injury, the severity, and progress in rehabilitation.

The E-Team consisted of ten undergraduate students enrolled in a year-long biomedical engineering course sequence with skills in computer programming and computer, biomedical, and electrical engineering. The students worked under the umbrella of Homewood Biomedical Design Associates, a university-based corporation. An engineering professor worked with the team, along with an engineering lecturer, the clinical director of Physiotherapy Associates, and the president and founder of Venture Quest, Inc., a management firm.

Breast Augmentation Instrument - BME 590 Technical Entrepreneurship

University of Miami, 2001 - $9,800

This E-Team designed an instrument that eases the insertion of implants when using the transaxillary breast augmentation procedure. The device works by holding the implant in an upright position. The first prototype was made out of stainless steel. Eventually, the team planned to test that prototype in surgery and, depending on the results, take it to mass production.

Technical Entrepreneurship Portable Insulin Cooler

University of Miami, 2000 - $6,500

This grant supported the development of a prototype for a small, portable, battery-powered cooler for transporting heat- and cold-sensitive materials such as insulin for periods greater than forty-eight hours. The device was designed to be cost competitive with existing coolers using cooler packs, and offer greater temperature control, longer storage, and additional features, such as a syringe and blood sugar measuring equipment compartment. The market projected to be 50-100k units based on diabetic usage in the US. The E-Team was composed of five biomedical engineering students and faculty advisors from the department. The team worked with two companies that manufacture the key components of the device, a thermoelectric cooling system and moldable paraffin insulation.

Screening Probe System for Coronary Artery Disease

Case Western Reserve University, 2000 - $20,000

This grant supported the prototyping, further development, and commercialization planning of a gamma imaging system to assess the risk of coronary artery disease. The system, based on new gamma imaging sensor technology, is intended to compete with existing technologies such as stress testing, EKG and ECT imaging by providing a lower-cost, higher-resolution test.

Update: The team has incorporated as NeoMed Technologies, secured two patents and received over $700k in funding.

Arthroscopic Simulator

University of Miami, 2000 - $13,500

This E-Team developed a mechanical device that allows surgeons to practice various arthroscopic techniques on the knee, in order to develop better techniques and muscle memory. The device incorporates feedback mechanisms to allow for performance monitoring. It is portable, affordable, and easy to use.

Syringe Disposal Design Team

University of Virginia, 1999 - $20,000

This E-Team developed a syringe disposal system for use by mass inoculation programs, particularly in the third world. Current disposal systems often do not protect users from accidental needle pricks, and the containers are too easy to open, resulting in dangerous reuse of needles. The container will be lightweight, puncture resistant, and very difficult to open once the needles are disposed.

The World Health Organization (WHO) would be the primary user of this technology. The long-term objective of the team is to form a company that will license or produce products that will improve healthcare safety worldwide.

The E-Team is made up of graduate and undergraduate students studying chemical engineering, engineering science, and biomedical engineering.

MedScan3D: The Development of an Affordable Three-Dimensional Ultrasonic Scanner for Medical Applications

Clarkson University, 1999 - $19,720

This team is developing an ultrasonic scanning system that scans and creates an image of the exterior of human body parts in three dimensions. The initial uses for the device will be medical applications such as the development of orthodic devices. Using new ultrasonic transducer technology, the team is funded to assemble, develop, and test a scanning helmet or barrel that will provide a CAD compatible output of the exterior surface of the scanned person or object.

The team plans to patent and license the technology. The technology should be of comparable quality to laser-based scanners, easy-to-use, portable, and less expensive than existing products.

The faculty advisor has assembled a group of advisors from the medical industry, electrical and computer engineering, mechanical and aeronautical engineering, as well as an expert in business and entrepreneurship. The students working on the project are recruited from a design course that he instructs.

Advanced Design in Biomedical Engineering

University of Virginia, 2006 - $21,200

This grant supports the expansion of an undergraduate course in biomedical design. The course engages undergraduate students in creative design before they reach their senior capstone course, encouraging students to develop and maintain their creativity while motivating further independent course-based learning. In the end, the course hopes to provide students with theoretical and practical design experience, an introduction to entrepreneurship in biomedical engineering, and an introduction to the discipline.

Expansion of Our Technical Entrepreneurship Program

University of Miami, 2006 - $6,500

With support from a NCIIA course and program grant the University of Miami first offered Technical Entrepreneurship (TE) in the Department of Biomedical Engineering in 1999. NCIIA then awarded a second grant to continue the course, expanding it to other engineering students and offering it as an alternative to the mandatory Senior Design Project course. To date, more than 100 students have completed the TE sequence with good results, and several E-Teams have been awarded grants. One project led to a patent application, and many others have led to invention disclosures.

This grant allows for further expansion of the course, revising it to meet important new goals. New aspects include the following: 1) Transforming TE into a truly interdisciplinary course, including students from other disciplines by adding faculty and other partners. 2) Collaborating with the School of Business Administration to include business students in E-Teams for SBA credits. 3) Establishing a dedicated design and prototyping studio to replace the lab that was destroyed in a fire. 4) Restructuring the lecture series to improve student selection of projects, searches for existing work, budgeting and discussions on the design process, prototyping, testing, documentation, and the legal and business aspects of entrepreneurship. 5) Create structures for sustaining promising E-Team projects beyond graduation. Some of the TE course renovations may be transferable to NCIIA-funded courses at other institutions.

UR-PUCP: Collaborations for Healthcare in Developing Countries

University of Rochester, 2008 - $25,200

The University of Rochester team will form international E-teams to tackle health issues in Peru. They seek to target the urgent health needs outlined by the Peruvian government, supplement the number of global-health design teams in the UR Biomedical Engineering design sequence, provide a more realistic and innovative design experience for Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru engineering students and build an infrastructure for collaborative experiences between international engineering students and healthcare providers. They will employ an unique strategy – interactions between engineering students, healthcare providers, and business consultants for a truly multidisciplinary team approach. UR’s Senior Design sequence will be extended as a way to generate E-teams in cohort with PUCP students. These teams will work to design affordable medical devices for the healthcare needs identified in Peru.

Biomedical Engineering E-Teams Without Borders

University of Alabama - Birmingham, 2008 - $31,500

This grant will develop e-teams with a focus on research and design opportunities for low-cost biomedical devices to aid people with disabilities in developing countries, focusing initially on Zambia. Two devices have been designed by graduated seniors in the UAB EWB and BME programs (a crutch and a rising wheelchair), and will be continued by e-teams.

Sophomores from the Science and Technology Honors program (STH) and the Business Honors Program (BHP) at UAB will collaborate with engineering seniors enrolled in a capstone design and product development sequence in Biomedical Engineering. Study abroad opportunities will exist with the UAB Engineers without Borders (EWB) program to perform research on need, markets, and the region. Other device needs will also be identified through this trip. E-teams will be responsible for engineering design and construction of prototypes, development of IP and patents, and introduction of the devices into the marketplace.

Technical Entrepreneurship Program: Continued Support

University of Miami, 2008 - $13,847

This grant offers continued support for the Technical Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Miami. A 1999 NCIIA Course & Program grant resulted in the first offering of Technical Entrepreneurship (TE) in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. NCIIA then awarded a second grant to continue the course, expanding it to other engineering students and offering it as an alternative to the mandatory Senior Design Project course. To date, well over 100 students have completed the TE sequence with good results, and several E-Teams have been awarded grants. One project led to a patent application, and many others have led to invention disclosures.

E-Team Preparation of SBIR Proposals for Biomedical Research and Commercialization

New Jersey Institute of Technology, 2005 - $17,400

Faculty at the New Jersey Institute of Technology are developing a course that combines business and technology students with small biomedical research firms to create SBIR/STTR proposals for projects that could lead to commercialization. NJIT has run a program for twelve years that sponsors MBA students to consult with entrepreneurs on marketing, finance, and management. This project extends that model by combining two biomedical majors with two MBA students to consult with entrepreneurs.

Through the course of the 15-week semester, students work with the client inventor (consulting with professors), working toward writing a successful grant proposal for a small business grant that would move the product to commercialization. Students are graded on three written assignments, with the final one being a completed SBIR/STTR grant.

The program taps into NJIT's Economic Development Center for client businesses to work with students. The incubator business center currently has 57 client firms, many of whom have already worked with the school on the earlier MBA program.

Professors from the Biomedical Engineering and the School of Management, and two directors from local incubator business centers are sponsoring the project. The program also has access to science faculty at Rutgers University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ.

Enabling Student Innovation in Biomedical Engineering: Development of a Graduate Level Innovative Design Class

Marshall University - $36,500

This grant will help expand a pilot program in a graduate-level biomedical engineering course by offering additional resources to design teams: equipment, materials, supplies, prototyping funds, and expert lecturers and consultants. During this year-long class, students are completely responsible for idea generation, prototype development and commercialization planning. They are exposed to an entrepreneurial environment and gain entrepreneurial skills not traditionally taught or integrated into university coursework.

Syndicate content