These student-led biotech startups won $100,000 in funding
Our world is becoming increasingly mobile. People yearn for ease and convenience with on-the-go lifestyles, even when it comes to their healthcare. With an eye toward these modern user needs, a team of students in Utah, uAir, is looking to integrate easy access to mini-inhaler doses into the busy lives of inhaler-dependent patients worldwide.
Over 75 percent of medical device start-ups in the US fail. Very often, this has nothing to do with the quality or innovative nature of the device at-hand, and everything to do with logistics.
This is where The University of Utah Health’s Center for Medical Innovation comes in. Now in its 11th year, the Center’s pinnacle student start-up program, Bench2Bedside, is turning out student-founded biotech startups that just might change the future―with the right partners and funding.
Thus far, the program has engaged more than 1,000 students across 238 teams―and more than 65 of those teams have moved forward to commercialize their creations.
Creating biotech startups
Bench2Bedside provides the resources for teams like uAir to create not only a functional prototype of their envisioned device― but also a viable business plan to scale their vision into reality.
During a seven-month period, students develop a go-to-market strategy from scratch, relying on experts from the University and surrounding communities to help them.
This year, the Center hosted a virtual Live Pitch night for teams to present ideas and get community feedback. More than 60 judges selected the teams competing this year, with top contenders advancing to a finalist round.
Adam Ruechel, Bench2Bedside program manager reflects, “What’s exciting about the Bench to Bedside program is that students are working to address the problems facing healthcare today, in the here and now. They’re not trying to rewrite modern medicine― they’re focusing on the issues health care professionals and patients deal with on a daily basis, who have thought ‘there has to be a better way to do this.’ By connecting these professionals with the seemingly limitless potential of student ingenuity, B2B continues to produce innovative, needs-based solutions which lay the groundwork for next-generation patient care.”
This year’s winners
Grand Prize ($25,000): uAir
Composed of students from the University of Utah School of Medicine and the Eccles School of Business, uAir is a novel respiratory inhaler to asthmatics. With proprietary technology, they have redesigned the inhaler to be more compact, mobile, and more effective to get the medication to the patient’s airway.
Runner Up ($15,000): Aether Masks
With students from the University of Utah’s Biomedical Engineering Program, Team Aether Masks designed a first-of-its-kind fog-free mask specifically for use in the operating room, allowing surgeons to operate more safely and easily.
Legacy Award ($20,000): Neurosense
Made up of students from the University of Utah’s Biomedical Engineering Program and Eccles School of Business, Team Neurosense has developed a novel nerve-sensing technology to detect peripheral nerve damage earlier and more reliably than current methods.
Best in Medicine ($5,000): NeoSafe Cradle
Team NeoSafe, founded by students from the University of Utah’s Biomedical Engineering Program, developed an improved enclosure for transporting newborn infants, designed to reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury due to loud noises or vibrations which may occur during transport.
Best in Engineering ($5,000): Aether Elbow
With students from the University of Utah’s Biomedical Engineering Program, Team Aether Elbow designed a device that integrates with current equipment to ensure proper airflow to patients during endoscopic procedures, reducing the risk of low oxygen flow and improving the likelihood of a successful endoscopy.
Best in Digital Health ($5,000): OkWellThen
Composed of students from BYU’s Information Systems program, Team OkWellThen is building an online platform to better understand hospital billing codes and provide transparency to patients on the costs of procedures.
Best in Business ($5,000): S-Band
Students from the University of Utah’s School of Medicine, the David Eccles School of Business, and the Trinity School of Medicine, developed a secure and affordable method of positioning a patient’s arm during high-precision intraosseous procedures called the S-Band.
Global Health Winner ($5,000): LaparoVision
Team LaparoVision, with students from BYU and MIT, created a unique method of cleaning a laparoscopic camera lens during surgery, allowing surgeons to continue operating clearly and effectively without needing to remove their tools from the patient.
Eccles & Marriott Libraries Winner ($5,000): MagCath
Designed by Students from the University of Utah School of Medicine, the MagCath device gives physicians better control of catheters and guidewires during neurovascular procedures, commonly used to treat strokes.