A story of perseverence and problem solving earned rave reviews at the 2019 Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge (HIC), hosted by the UW Foster School’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship. Nanodropper, a team of pharmacology, bioengineering, and medical students, won the $15,000 IntuitiveX grand prize for their affordable, universal eye dropper. Nanodropper is led by current and former University of Washington students who grabbed headlines for their frustration and outrage over “wasteful products” in the pharmaceutical industry.
Co-founder Mackenzie Andrews told KING 5 news at the event that the team “has lined up everything we need to get this solution to patients…it’s that last little bit of funding which will flip the switch and allow us to really start manufacturing.” Nanodropper previously won a $1,000 “Judges Also Really Liked” (JARL) award at last year’s HIC.
The $10,000 Herbert B. Jones Foundation second place prize went to Appiture from Washington State University. The team of chemical engineering, bioengineering, and veterinary medicine students developed a camera-integrated mobile application that improves the early diagnosis of autism in children. Currently, autism is diagnosed in children at the age of 4 or older on average.
The nearly 100 health and healthcare entrepreneurs, medical experts, and investors who judged the teams awarded the WRF Capital $5,000 third place prize to Pulmora. The team of UW bioengineering students developed an emergency ventilator that aims to be so easy to use that the average person could grab one to help someone who has stopped breathing.
This year’s competition featured two brand new awards as well. The M&M Consulting Medical Device Prize went to Nanodropper and includes a full-day commercialization workshop (valued at $2,500). The $2,500 Kent & Lisa Sacia Digital Health Prize went to Appiture. It recognizes an innovative digital health application that has a high likelihood of being implemented in practical healthcare situations with meaningful impact.
Judges also gave out two JARL awards. DopCuff won $1,000 for its device that aims to improve how nurses obtain blood pressure readings in certain patients with end stage heart failure. The team features mechanical engineering, eletrical engineering, and materials science and engineering students from UW. The other $1,000 award went to Insulin Anywhere, also from UW. The team of bioengineering students developed a portable device so diabetic patients can treat themselves for up to a week or longer following a natural disaster.
This was the fourth year of the Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge. The Buerk Center will host two more competitions in the coming weeks. The Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge (EIC) is coming up Wednesday, April 3. The Dempsey Startup Competition (formerly the UW Business Plan Competition) holds its Investment Round on Wednesday, May 1, followed by the Sweet 16 and Final Round on Thursday, May 23. Since 1998, more than a thousand student-created companies have come out of the Buerk Center and gone on to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in funding.