The student teams at the 2020 Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge (HIC) impressed the final round judges enough for many to call it the “best competition yet.” ApnoMed won the $15,000 IntuitiveX Grand Prize with an innovative solution to sleep apnea at the live round hosted by the UW Foster School’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship.
ApnoMed is a UW Foster School’s Master of Science in Entrepreneurship team that created a solution for sleep apnea sufferers that eliminates issues with the jaw while leaving behind no long-term side effects. Their solution also won the team the Herbert B. Jones Foundation $2,500 Best Idea for a Medical Device Prize.
A historic moment took place just minutes before the grand prize was announced. For the first time, two teams received exactly the same score, down to the decimal point, from the dozens of entrepreneurs, investors, and health experts who served as judges. Buerk Center managers decided there was only one solution that would fulfill the spirit and mission of the competition, and that was to award two $10,000 WRF Capital Second Place prizes! One went to University of Idaho team CatheterX for their solution aimed at reducing the presence of bacteria in the urinary tract. The other was awarded to the UW Bioengineering team Concentric for their low-cost, portable screening device for corneal disease.
The $5,000 Herbert B. Jones Foundation Third Place Prize was awarded to Spira. The team of UW computer science students (who are also in the Lavin Entrepreneurship Program) created a way to screen for respiratory disease using machine learning. Spira also captured the Kent & Lisa Sacia $2,500 Digital Health Prize, which goes to a health application that has a high likelihood of being used in practical healthcare situations with meaningful impact.
Judges awarded the $2,500 Timmie and Jim Hollomon Best Health Impact Prize to ElectroSolar Oxygen. The team of chemical engineering students from UW is developing a sustainable way to produce oxygen from sunlight so clinics in developing countries can have access to the oxygen supply they need.
ElectroSolar Oxygen was also the beneficiary of a new spin on an old favorite. For years, judges have awarded $1,000 “Judges Also Really Liked” (JARL) prizes to teams that just missed the cut for the top three prizes. Past JARL winners include Nanodropper in 2018 and EpiForAll (now known as MedsForAll) in 2016. Both those teams went on to win the grand prize in the HIC the following year.
To celebrate the impact and legacy of these awards, the Buerk Center announced they would forever be known as the Connie Bourassa-Shaw Spark Awards, in tribute to the former director of the Center who retired in 2017. Connie dedicated her career to helping students find that “spark” and turn their idea into a reality.
This was the fifth anniversary of the Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge. 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.
You can find this press release and other stories from Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship right now on the Foster blog.