2008 BMEidea Winners: What are they up to?

The 2008 BMEidea Winners: 1.5 years later

The 2008 BMEidea winners are looking to make medicine cheaper and more efficient—and save lives in the process—with a new baby monitoring tool, a better pain killer delivery platform and a simple device that makes the closing of surgical incisions easier. So where are the winners now? How far down the road have their projects come a year and half after the competition? We talked with the teams recently to find out.

First prize: Rapid Suture, Stanford University
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 a passageway for surgical instruments. The trocars leave 10-12mm openings through all the tissue layers, and at the end of the procedure the surgeon is faced with the challenge of closing the incision sites.

There are two popular methods of closing the sites: the J needle and the Carter-Thomason closure device. The J needle resembles a fish hook and has to be angled so that it catches only the fascia (soft connective tissue) and none of the skin. Not an easy task, but even if a site is successfully sutured the J needle still has to be removed without puncturing any tissue on the way up and out, a time-consuming process that relies entirely on visualization and tactile feel.

The Carter-Thomason device involves sharp downward-pointing needles that enter the abdomen in order to perform the suture. This method can be dangerous, however, possibly leading to punctured bowels and damage to blood vessels.

The first-prize-winning team in the 2008 BMEidea competition came up with a solution to these problems with Rapid Suture, a small, inexpensive device that allows for quick, safe, and easy suturing during laparoscopic procedures. The unique solution is a small device with housed needles that allows for all critical tissue layers to be sutured except for the skin, which heals naturally. Since the device is simple and easy to use, it has a short learning curve relative to the current approaches, and since it lacks sharp needles pointing toward the bowels, the risk of trauma is minimized. It also makes suturing faster, reducing the amount of time the patient is under anesthesia and thereby cutting operating room costs.

The Rapid Suture project got its start in a class called Medical Device Design at Stanford. Team members Ellis Garai, Sumona Nag and others took the course in the fall of 2007 and, according to Nag, worked through the initial technical aspect of what an improved suturing device would look like. “By the end of the seven-week course we had worked through the first phase of the technical aspect and filed for a provisional patent.”

Sensing commercial promise, the team decided to stay together after the course ended and continue working on Rapid Suture. “We’ve been refining the design and working on the business end of the project, all on our own time,” Garai said.

They’ve made solid progress, having formally incorporated and working now on the third iteration of the device. They’ve also done market research, sending out a questionnaire to a number of different physicians to get as much feedback on the device as they can. They've retained prominent legal counsel to help secure their IP.

They’re now hoping to start FDA trials next year and, depending on how the trials go, apply for FDA approval and move toward a limited product release. Sumona and others will be “looking to do a lot of R&D over the summer—remaining on the project after graduation.”

While the future of Rapid Suture seems bright, the BMEidea competition provided the team with a little stimulus to push the project toward something real. Said Nag: “BMEidea really helped us, especially in the beginning. We didn’t have much experience writing business plans, so applying for BMEidea was a good stepping-stone, a good way to get us thinking about it. And after the competition, we used the material we wrote for BMEidea to finalize a full business plan. It helped push us along the path toward a full venture as opposed to just a technology idea.”

Second prize: KMC ApneAlert, Northwestern University
Premature infants have a number of special needs that make them different from full-term infants: they need warmth (since they lack the body fat necessary to maintain their temperature), special nutrition (their digestive systems are immature), and protection from a slew of potential health problems, from infection to respiratory illness to anemia. To take care of all these needs, preemies often begin their lives in an incubator, which keeps the baby warm with radiant light and guards against trouble with a number of complex monitoring systems.

The problem? Incubators are extremely expensive, making them very hard to come by in the developing world.

What do you do with a preemie when you don’t have access to an incubator? One low-cost alternative gaining in popularity is kangaroo mother care (KMC), a technique in which the infant is kept in a frog-like position on the mother’s chest at all times, keeping the baby warm and allowing the mother to monitor the infant for signs of trouble. KMC has been shown to be an effective alternative to incubator care, but one problem still remains: apnea. Apnea, a common health problem among premature babies, occurs when a baby stops breathing, the heart rate decreases, and the skin turns pale, purplish, or blue. Apnea is usually caused by immaturity in the area of the brain that controls the drive to breathe, and a long apnea episode can result in neurological problems or even death.

While a mother doing KMC can sense an apnea episode and shift the baby when awake, premature infants remain at risk while the mother herself is sleeping and unable to detect an apnea episode. And although there are plenty of apnea detectors on the market, none are designed to work with the KMC system.

Enter the team from Northwestern. Winners of second place in the 2008 BMEidea competition, the team is looking to fill the void in the market by developing the KMC ApneAlert, a low-cost, KMC-compatible apnea detection system. The device, essentially a flexible patch, detects apnea by monitoring the typical abdominal movements of a premature infant while breathing. If there is no breathing for a stretch of time, the device sets off an alarm, waking the mother. The patch is attached to the baby’s abdomen using a gentle, double-sided adhesive pad.

The KMC project got its start in Northwestern’s senior design project course. NU’s biomedical engineering department has strong relationships with South African universities and hospitals, and according to team member Lauren Hart Smith, South African nurses and engineers came to NU and explained the need for a KMC-compatible apnea monitor. Said Smith: “They came to us and asked to have Northwestern students work on a device, so from the beginning we’ve had a general definition of the problem.” Several teams worked on iterations of the device over the course of several classes. Smith’s team then “took their work and went into greater depth—took it in a different direction.”

Recognition followed. They won 2nd prize in the BMEidea competition, 2nd prize in the senior design project competition at Northwestern, won NCIIA E-Team grant funding, and were finalists in the CIMIT competition. Although the team was comprised mostly seniors who have gone on to graduate, the project is moving forward under the direction of Smith and current team leader Kurt Qing. “We’ve been working on two fronts,” said Smith. “We have a team in Chicago working on prototyping and team working in the field in South Africa, our initial target market. We’ve modified the device, updated the circuitry, and reassessed some of the requirements for the design.”

They’re also taking steps toward commercialization, working with a businessman in South Africa who developed a SIDS-related commercial device. He’s helping the team develop a business model that makes sense for the developing world.

As far as the impact of the BMEidea competition is concerned, Smith says it broadened the team’s perspective and made them take into account all aspects of the project. “First of all, just thinking about submitting the BMEidea application itself made us think about all the different components of the project: how to build and market a medical device from start to finish. We engineers can have lofty ideas, and say, ‘This can work—how cool would that be?’ but we don’t always think about the logistics: how am I going to market this? Is it feasible? What are the regulations? Those are the things that the BMEidea competition stresses. It’s very helpful to think about the project in its entirety, from prototype to commercial product.”

Third prize: REGEN: Local Delivery of Post-Operative Analgesia, Johns Hopkins University
Minimally invasive surgery is a rapidly growing alternative approach to traditional surgery, and it’s not hard to understand why: the smaller the cuts, the better. Patients recover faster, have smaller surgical scars, and experience less post-operative pain.

There is still some post-operative pain, of course, the bulk of it located right at the multiple incision sites that surgeons make during laparoscopic (minimally invasive) procedures. As a result, 80% of laparoscopy patients require painkillers to mitigate the effects. These systemic narcotics (Vicodin, OxyContin and the like) have a number of side effects, none of them good: cognitive impairment, nausea, dizziness, itching, constipation and more.

The REGEN team from Johns Hopkins is looking to take the painkillers out of the equation and make laparoscopic surgery that much more efficient in the process. They have designed, developed, and tested an implantable receptacle that allows analgesic to diffuse out at a controlled and sustained rate directly at the site of the incision. By delivering pain medicine right to the site, the device relieves pain without the need for narcotics. No oral pills, no nasty side effects.

The REGEN project got its start in Johns Hopkins’ design program. As seniors in 2007, Dhanya Rangaraj and Henry Chang started looking around for a design project and found a solid sponsor—Malcolm Lloyd, an alumni of the Johns Hopkins Biomedical Engineering program, doctor, and serial entrepreneur with his hands in a number of startups. Lloyd had already identified the clinical need for a device like REGEN, and the team worked with him to help refine the idea and narrow it down. They then built their team from a list of students interested in the program, and made sure to involve people with a variety of skill sets. “Part of the process of design is designing your team to make sure you get maximum efficiency,” said Chang. “You pick people with different backgrounds and different skills and combine them together to create a unit that works together well.”

And the team did perform well, although they encountered some resistance along the way both in terms of device development and external issues. “The design program at Johns Hopkins isn’t designed to encourage materials science projects,” said Rangaraj. “The program is formed more around assessing a mechanical design, so we were somewhat of an outlier in the group. It was hard to get resources and we weren’t working directly out of a lab.”

Then there were design challenges. “We looked at the problem from a number of different angles,” said Chang, “and came up with different solutions. Our initial solution ended up not working, and the final design turned out to be significantly different. But that’s one of the normal challenges of any design process.”

And of course the other challenge was handling a team of nine students. “That’s a skill you have to develop and learn,” said Chang. “About half the problems we faced were related to dealing with people, whether part of the team or outside it—students, doctors, surgeons, businessmen.”

But the team worked through the challenges, eventually creating a working prototype with positive clinical results and taking third prize in the BMEidea competition. They went on to license the technology to Dr. Lloyd; it’s currently under development in Dr. Lloyd’s company, Device Evolutions. Neither of the team leaders is still on the project, with Rangaraj entering the biomedical device industry after graduation and Chang pursuing an MD PhD. Nevertheless, they both believe that participating in BMEidea was worthwhile and changed their professional outlooks. “Our project was much more of a clinical design challenge than anything else,” said Chang. “We were doing presentations and talking to doctors and engineers about the technical problem alone—there was no real focus on the business side of the equation. So one of the great things about being a part of BMEidea was that we had to shift our focus away from explaining the science behind our product and moving toward a business orientation—‘Why is this important? Why would people be interested in this?’ It gave us a different perspective on the project than we would’ve had otherwise.”

Said Rangaraj: “As an undergraduate majoring in engineering, the business side of my education was completely neglected. I really didn’t know much about the larger business picture. Submitting to BMEidea made me think about that side, which was very valuable. I found the experience incredibly educational.”

Portable Negative Pressure Ventilation Device

Johns Hopkins University, 2008 - $17,562

Negative Pressure Ventilation (NPV) is the mechanism by which bodies breath naturally; air passively flows into the lungs due to the negative pressure of the diaphragm movement. This team's idea is to address the problem of increased mortality due to the detrimental effects of Positive Pressure Ventilation (PPV), when paramedics manually force air into the lungs using a bag valve mask. PPV can lead to longer hospital discharge times.

The team developed a prototype that electronically stimulates the phrenic nerve in the neck, forcing the diaphragm to take in air. Their prototype includes a neck electrode patch to deliver pulses to the phrenic nerve, a feedback system to determine if the patient is breathing, a stimulation unit that is battery powered and rechargeable, and software for a tablet PC to control the stimulation and the breathing rate.

Small Engines Enterprise

Colorado State University, 2008 - $15,300

The successful innovation of the treadle pump and its variations has increased the incomes of farmers earning less than one dollar a day in developing countries. Yet the average treadle pump lifts only 3-5m of water at 1 liter/second, requiring a farmer to operate the pump for 10-14 hours per day to irrigate half an acre. Diesel engines pump water much faster than that, but are expensive, heavy, and cost too much to run and maintain.

This E-Team is developing a one-horsepower biodiesel (or straight vegetable oil) engine that meets the water pumping and electricity generation needs of small and marginal farmers in the developing world, increasing their productivity and their income. The team has partnered with IDE, SELCO and the Energy and Engines Conversion Lab (EECL) at CSU to develop and distribute the engine. They will initially use IDE's distribution network in India, Bangladesh and Ethiopia.


Disposable Robot De-mining

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2008 - $13,420

Worldwide, 2,000 people each month are killed or maimed by land mines. Humanitarian de-mining projects are underway, and fall into two categories, manual and mechanical. Manual de-mining involves a person in protective gear prodding the ground for hours, and while effective, it is very slow and can be dangerous. Mechanical de-mining involves the use of robots to explode mines, but current robots are either very expensive ($500,000) or are unproven and not widely implemented.

This E-Team is developing a low-cost, disposable robot de-miner. Reasoning that the high cost of most robot de-miners comes from the fact that they are built for repeated detonations, and therefore need to be very sturdy, the team's robot is lower-tech, consisting of spike rollers, a steering mechanism, and a pressure concentrator to detonate the mine. The idea is to deploy a "swarm" of $50 one-shot robots to clear a minefield. The team has developed an alpha prototype.

Low Cost Ventilator for Use in Developing Nations and Large Scale Disasters (Onebreath)

Stanford University, 2008 - $19,000

This E-Team is developing a low-cost ventilator - named Onebreath - for two distinct purposes: emergency readiness in developed countries and general use in developing countries. The state of preparedness of the US healthcare system for an influenza epidemic has been recently assessed, and it was determined that the nation's hospitals will not have enough ventilators to meet the anticipated demand (more than 740,000 would be needed; the US has 105,000). Meanwhile, in developing countries, millions die each year from lack of access to a common ventilator. To fill the need in both cases, the team is developing a low-cost ($300, where typical ventilators range from $8,000-$60,000), rechargeable, portable, disposable ventilator.


PneumoniaCheck: A New Specimen Collection Device

Georgia Institute of Technology, 2008 - $18,500

Although pneumonia is a common disease that affects 1.4 million Americans annually, diagnosing its cause can still be difficult. Pneumonia can be caused by a large variety of viral and bacterial pathogens, and traditional pneumonia diagnostic methods are limited, primarily because they cannot reliably collect a high quality specimen from the lower respiratory tract, where the disease originates.


In order to improve pneumonia diagnosis, this E-Team has developed the PneumoniaCheck, a handheld, tubular device that consistently obtains samples from the lower respiratory tract by separating the air as the patient exhales/coughs. Using fluid mechanics, the anatomic dead space volume can be separated from the alveolar (lower lung) breath, where the pathogens reside. This makes for an effective and inexpensive separation device that does not use electronics, a power source, or machined flow-valves.


In Feb 2011, the GIT team launched a new startup, MD Innovate Inc., to commercialize PneumoniaCheck.


Enabling Solar Disinfection of Turbid Water by the World's Rural Poor

Illinois Institute of Technology, 2008 - $6,000

SODIS is a water disinfection technique that uses UV radiation to kill microorganisms in the water. Small amounts of contaminated water are put into transparent plastic bottles and exposed to full sunlight for six hours, killing microorganisms through radiation and high temperatures. While the SODIS method has gained some traction in the developing world, it has two major limitations: it cannot disinfect turbid (murky) water, and it does not remove organic chemical contaminants such as pesticides and fertilizers.

This E-Team is developing a modification to the SODIS system. Their design consists of two buckets stacked on top of each other, with the first bucket containing layers of gravel, sand, and crushed charcoal, and the second bucket serving as a storage container. The team tested the design and showed that it significantly reduces both the turbidity of the water and the levels of microorganisms, pesticides, and fertilizer components.

Dizziness Diagnostic Device (D3)

Johns Hopkins University, 2008 - $17,000

This E-Team is developing a motorized head-moving device that effectively diagnoses dizziness. Dizziness is the number one medical complaint among the elderly and the third most frequent complaint that brings people to primary care and emergency rooms. Dizziness often leads to falls, which can be fatal or cause serious bodily injury, and result in billions of dollars in health care fees. While many causes of dizziness are treatable, current diagnostic techniques are complicated, costly, and uncomfortable for patients.

The team's device, D3, is simple, user-friendly, and reliable. The patient wears a helmet and places a "bite bar" in their mouth that has been molded to their dentition. A video camera monitors eye rotation responses while head is rotated.

Malawi Water Cycle (Developing World Technologies)

Washington State University, 2008 - $18,000

WaterCycle has developed a human-powered pumping solution to address the need for effective and inexpensive ways to irrigate crops. The team is marketing the technology through their company, Developing World Technologies.


Building on a 2006 NCIIA E-Team grant, this team is continuing to develop irrigation systems for farmers in Malawi. The team, now called WaterCycle, is developing two distinct systems: a hand-powered water pump and a bicycle-powered water pump. Both produce higher flow rates than standard treadle pumps (decreasing time spent pumping) and are easily transportable, rugged, and inexpensive. The designs are currently being tested in Malawi.


Uterine Atony Device Design Team

University of Virginia, 2008 - $16,100

This E-Team is developing a device to treat uterine atony, the failure of the uterus to contract after a c-section birth, which can lead to excessive blood loss, hysterectomy and (sometimes) death. While there are a wide array of treatments for uterine atony (manual stimulation, drug therapy, surgery, medical devices), they aren't particularly effective and their cost and complexity often precludes their use outside western hospitals. The team's simple mechanical device is a clamp that simulates manual stimulation more effectively by compressing the uterus, suppressing hemorrhaging. The clamp clicks into one of three settings, each corresponding to different levels of pressure.

The Negative X-ray Rapid System

Johns Hopkins University, 2008 - $16,500

The Negative X-ray Rapid System is a device that utilizes software to detect retained foreign bodies (RFBs) in post-surgical x-rays. RFBs--surgical instruments left inside the patient's body after surgery--can cause medical complications, result in death in up to 35% of cases, and almost always require a second operation to remove the forgotten item. Right now, the process of obtaining and analyzing post-surgical x-rays is laborious and expensive. The Negative X-ray Rapid System will dramatically reduce the resources needed to obtain a negative x-ray without compromising accuracy.

Solar Lighting Systems for Remote Rural Communities

Cooper Union, 2008 - $18,500

In 2006, Cooper Union began working with rural communities in northern Ghana on a solar lantern project. They have made steady progress since then, developing several generations of prototypes. Field trials began in June 2007, with the ultimate goal of creating an affordable, solar-powered lantern made from local materials and sold by local entrepreneurs.

This grant further supported the project. Students traveled to Ghana in summer of 2008 and continued developing prototypes of lanterns, charging stations, and a pilot production assembly line.


Endurance Rhythm

Stanford University, 2008 - $16,700

Every year, 10-20% of all pacemaker and implantable cardiac device (ICD) surgeries are replacements: the batteries fail, necessitating replacement of the entire device. This is an extra expense and surgical risk that could be avoided if the batteries lasted longer. To that end, this E-Team is developing a microgenerator consisting of a moving magnet and coil located within the tips of existing pacemakers' wire leads attached to the heart wall. The device will harvest the energy generated by the movement of the wall when the heart beats, thereby extending the life of the battery.

2008 Olympus Innovation Award Winners


From left: Tina Seelig, Dave Barbe and Martina Musteen.

The NCIIA is delighted to announce the 2008 winners in the Olympus Innovation Award Program: Dr. Tom Byers and Dr. Tina Seelig, Stanford University; Dr. David F. Barbe, University of Maryland; and Dr. Martina Musteen, San Diego State University. The winners received their awards in Dallas, Texas, at the NCIIA 12th Annual Meeting.

"At Olympus, we understand the value and power of innovation, since it is at the core of every new technology we pioneer," stated F. Mark Gumz, president and chief operating officer of Olympus America Inc. "We are proud of the continuing success of the Innovation Awards as they recognize innovation in U.S. academia, which will foster the next generation of business leaders."

"Every year, we are amazed at how the programs and innovators that comprise the award candidates continue to get stronger," said NCIIA executive director Phil Weilerstein. "We had an excellent selection of candidates this year, and the winners had unique programs that demonstrated the tremendous impact they had on their students and universities, as well as their academic peers."

Stanford professors Tom Byers and Tina Seelig, co-founders of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP), which encourages top engineering and science schools worldwide to include entrepreneurship as part of their curricula, won the Olympus Innovation Award. This award recognizes faculty who foster an environment of innovative thinking among students through inventive teaching methods and hands-on opportunities. At STVP, Byers and Seelig also develop and offer courses, conferences, internships and research activities.

Martina Musteen, assistant professor at the College of Business Administration at San Diego State University, received the Olympus Emerging Educational Leader Award. This award recognizes an individual who has inspired innovative thinking in students in a discrete area and who, the judges believe, has the potential to make even greater contributions to the field in the future. Musteen was also recognized for giving students the opportunity to work with international entrepreneurial companies to expand their global market opportunities.

David Barbe, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Maryland and executive director of the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (MTECH), won the Olympus Lifetime of Educational Innovation Award. This award recognizes faculty members who have demonstrated a sustained contribution throughout their careers to stimulating and inspiring innovative thinking in students in their own universities and throughout academia. Barbe has a proven record of leadership in creating one of the leading innovative technology entrepreneurship cultures at a U.S. university, through successful programs such as the university's Hinman CEOs program and its Technology Startup boot camp, both of which have become models that are replicated nationwide, as well as through the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program.

NexGEN SolarPads

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2008 - $19,000

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

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

ecoMOD Home Energy and Environmental Monitoring System

University of Virginia, 2008 - $15,000

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

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

EcoMOD project website

N-SORB: Providing Safer Environment

Brown University, 2008 - $20,000

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

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

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

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

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

SMART Kit (Lifeserve Innovations)

Lehigh University, 2008 - $19,600

LifeServe Innovations is an entrepreneurial venture formed at Lehigh University aimed at developing and commercializing an emergency tracheostomy device. Currently the standard surgical airway procedure for the emergency field is a cricothyroidotomy, but this procedure is problematic as the airway it creates is temporary and needs to be replaced at the hospital. LifeServe intends to improve the practice by bringing an in-hospital procedure, the percutaneous tracheostomy, to the field of emergency medicine.

The team is developing the SMART Kit, which will contain all the tools necessary to perform a percutaneous tracheostomy in the field. The vital component of the kit is LifeServe's patentable SnakeBite Dilator (pictured). This device transforms a percutaneous trachestomy from a timely and involved surgery to a fast and user-friendly procedure.

LifeServe has already prototyped an initial version of the dilator, performed market research, and gained insight and feedback from medical professionals.


Duquesne University, 2008 - $15,025

The E-Team is creating PlastEco, a low-cost thatch-roofing product made from discarded plastic bottles. Using plastic strips instead of natural materials means a longer lasting, more energy efficient roof, and puts into use plastic bottles that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

The team has a close working relationship with Fundacion Maquipucuna, an Ecuadorian NGO; several groups of students have visited Ecuador to work with FM in developing PlastEco and other products (work supported in part by an NCIIA Sustainable Vision grant). The ultimate goal of the PlastEco project is to create micro-enterprises in Ecuador based around the technology, with the revenues supporting FM’s work in environmental conservation and poverty alleviation.

Development of a Total Cancer Marker through Single Molecule Assessment of DNA Integrity

Johns Hopkins University, 2008 - $20,000

Despite a number of advances in cancer detection technologies, the development of clinically validated, blood-based cancer biomarkers remains an unmet challenge for many common cancers. Better markers would lead to earlier detection, saving lives and cutting down on hospital costs. A new method, the DNA Integrity Assay (DIA) has the potential to accurately discriminate cancerous cells from normal cells for a wide range of cancers, but its clinical acceptance has been limited due to the complexity of the test, sampling errors, and the high cost of the materials, instruments and highly trained personnel needed to run it.

This E-Team is developing a new DIA testing method called smDIA (single molecule assessment of DNA integrity), which has the potential to eliminate errors and reduce the costs associated with the traditional DIA approach. In this method, a patient’s DNA sample (blood, stool, etc.) is transported by a microfluidic device through a sheet of laser beams (Cylindrical Illumination Confocal Spectroscopy), enabling direct analysis of the patient's DNA integrity in a rapid, uniform manner.

KMC Apnea Alert

Northwestern University, 2008 - $20,000

A popular alternative to incubator care for premature infants in developing areas is kangaroo mother care (KMC), a technique in which the infant if kept in a frog-like position on the caregiver’s chest at all times, allowing the caregiver to monitor the infant. While KMC is accepted as an alternative to incubator care by the World Health Organization, premature infants remain at risk for apnea while the caregiver is sleeping and therefore unable to detect an apnea episode. Most apnea detectors do not work with the KMC system.

This E-Team is developing a low-cost, KMC-compatible apnea detection system. The team formed in response to a request from the Karl Bremer Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa for a KMC-compatible apnea monitor and is based on previous coursework over the past two semesters. The device detects apnea by monitoring the typical adbonimal movements of a premature infant while breathing. If there is no breathing for a stretch of time, indicating an apnea episode, the device sets off an alarm. The device is attached to the abdomen using a gentle, double-sided hydrogel adhesive pad that is disposable and replaceable.

University of California, Davis Program for International Energy Technologies (PIET)

University of California-Davis, 2008 - $47,500.00

For this project, the UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center (EEC) and Center for Entrepreneurship are creating the Program for International Energy Technologies (PIET), an interdisciplinary program focusing on getting low-cost, clean energy, and energy efficient solutions into the market in developing countries. The primary goals of the program include: 1) educating and engaging UC Davis students in energy-related issues in developing countries; 2) developing interdisciplinary student E-Teams to create, design, and distribute sustainable energy products and programs; and 3) bridging the gap between the need, existing technologies, and the market by creating dissemination strategies for appropriate energy technologies in developing countries.

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.

A Multi-disciplinary, Multi-level Innovation-team Course

North Dakota State University-Main Campus, 2008 - $9,000.00

This project supports a course focused on micro-manufacturing innovation in the field of medical and dental products. The course could be expanded to become a compilation of offerings with different technological emphases but a similar structure and innovation-centered context. All the resulting courses would: 1) be open to students majoring in any subject relevant to the topic of the innovation, and would also be made available to students attending NDSU's global partner institutions and students within the Tri-college network in the region; 2) create an enabling and sustainable framework for innovation teams to secure resources through partnerships with industrial organizations and private entrepreneurs, as well as through grants from governmental and foundation resources; and 3) potentially serve as departmental electives and have course credit hours fulfill graduation requirements.

GlobalResolve: Development of a Sustainable Gelfuel Business in Rural Ghana

University of Idaho

Proposal Summary: This proposal is a continuation of a sustainable Vision grant awarded to ASU last year to design and build an ethanol gelfuel manufacturing plant. ASU now proposes to partner with the Kumasi Institute of Technology, Energy and Environment, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and the village chief and elders in Domeabra, Ghana to begin developing the gelfuel industry. This ASU proposal seeks to 1) study the market and monitor the acceptance and market penetration of gelfuel in Domeabra and Kumasi; 2) develop ultra low-cost stoves designed to work with gelfuel that will be produced in Domeabra; and 3) help Domeabra make a supply chain for raw materials and marketing/distribution of the gelfuel and stoves. http://globalresolve.asu.edu/ Anticipated Outcome of Project: The establishment of a supply chain for the raw materials and the marketing and distribution of gel fuel and low cost stoves. New jobs and revenue streams for Ghanaian entrepreneurs and a reduced dependence on wood burning stoves. Why Project Should be Funded: The project has made significant technical advances, but more remains to be done in order to launch a sustainable venture. If successful, this program could significantly reduce indoor pollution and resulting respiratory health problems. Use of Funds: Funding is requested for stipends, prototyping, travel expenses and indirect costs.

The Four Directions Program

Carnegie Mellon University

The Four Directions Program is focused on sustainable entrepreneurship and venture development for Native American students and others at Arizona State University. E-Teams develop business plans for tribal-based ventures emphasizing sustainability, and are encouraged to submit their proposals to NCIIA and seek support from other Arizona institutions

E-Team Workshop Series and Phase 0 Seed Fund Program

Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus

This project will help form E-Teams by creating hands-on project experiences for students from various disciplines. A series of three "E-workshops" will be held, in which professors and guest speakers will introduce and educate students on the process of developing an idea, performing market research, and creating business plans. At the end of the workshop series, E-Teams will compete for $1,000 in seed funding
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