Contest inspires innovations to shape medicine’s future

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Contest inspires innovations to shape medicine’s future

Foster School of Business inaugurates entrepreneurial health challenge
Brian Donohue

Synthetic blood vessels. Allergy-alert systems. A gastric gas sensor on a tethered capsule endoscope.

Futuristic concepts in medicine captivated UW students and community members yesterday when the Foster School of Business inaugurated the Health Innovation Challenge.

Dempsey Hall buzzed with energy as 18 student teams demoed ideas and inventions that have consumed their time for months. They talked up their projects’ novelty and ability to solve health problems. And then, cheers erupted as third, second and first-place winners hoisted oversize checks for $2500, $5,000 and $10,000, respectively.  

Brian Donohue
Team 6ixS Vascular Solutions prominently addressed their invention.
picture of T-shirt bearing a message about synthetic blood vessels

First place: Engage (Emily Willard, Katherine Brandenstein; Washington State University Bioengineering). Engage works to improve medical technology in developing countries with scarce resources, initially focusing on reducing the spread of blood borne pathogens as a result of contaminated injections.

Second place: miPS Labs (Alex Jiao, Jenna Strully, Ned Whalen, Rob Thomas, Aakash Sur, Winnie Leung; UW Foster School of Business, Bioengineering, Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education).  miPS Labs allows you to preserve your youngest cells today to repair and regenerate your body tomorrow.

Third place: MultiModal Health (Brian Mogen, Tyler Libey, Dimi Gklezakos; UW Bioengineering and Computer Science and Engineering). MultiModal Health uses advanced data science and engaging software to quantify rehab, extending advanced treatment from the clinic to the home.

More than 100 community professionals judged the teams’ ability to persuasively convey an existing medical problem and their solutions’ viability. 

Brian Donohue
Eighteen teams fervently pitched more than 100 judges during a two-hour span before the awards were presented.
picture of a team pitching its ideas to event judges

Contest director Terri Butler was overjoyed at the response for the first-year event.

“We got 34 initial entries, about double what we’d expected,” she said. “Everything from food systems to therapeutics. Students were across-the-board, undergrad juniors and seniors, graduate students, medicine, human-centered design, materials science, bioinformatics – lots of areas. A really interesting mix.”

Teams weren’t required to have business school representatives; some were composed entirely of students in domains of engineering or other sciences outside of medicine.

As with the school’s other entrepreneurial competitions, this contest exists to give students hands-on experience applying lessons from the classroom.

“No matter where students end up after school, in this competition they learn how to work with people from other disciplines, they learn how to buckle down and rely on team members to take responsibility for deliverables to make something a reality,” Butler said.

Pursuit of some projects continues beyond the contest. About 70 student teams from the 8-year-old Environmental Innovation Challenge have gone on to form local companies, she added.

See a list of the 18 finalists.