Student teams at the 6th annual Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge (HIC) set a new standard for virtual competitions in 2021. Judges awarded $41,000 in prizes after seamlessly experiencing a combination of live pitches, prototype demo videos, and student-created team rooms at the event hosted by the UW Foster School’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship.
Sound Sustainability received the $15,000 WRF Capital Grand Prize for its approach to improving access for hearing impaired or challenged individuals through the creation of high-quality, yet affordable hearing aids.
The startup’s founder, a current student in the Foster School’s Master of Science in Entrepreneurship program, is a hearing-impaired Army veteran. Coincidentally, the day of this year’s competition, March 3, also happened to be World Hearing Day. This marks the second year in a row that a team from the MS in Entrepreneurship program took home the top prize (ApnoMed in 2020) at the HIC.
Judges awarded the $10,000 Herbert B. Jones Foundation Second Place Prize to Nascent Diagnostics. The team of University of Washington materials science and engineering students is developing a biosensor array that aims to improve the diagnosis and monitoring of various diseases through non-invasive and cost-effective means.
The $5,000 Fenwick & West Third Place Prize went to Under Pressure. The team of UW chemical, electrical, and mechanical engineering students is developing a non-invasive blood pressure monitor for the operating room.
This year’s competition also featured four “Best Idea” prizes for the 21 finalist teams to compete for—including two brand new prizes created to address critical issues that have recently come under the spotlight. The first of these new prizes, the $2,500 Jim & Timmie Hollomon Best Idea for Pandemic Preparedness, was awarded to Mask Seal Testing. The team of UW mechanical engineering and electrical and computer engineering students created an accurate test that uses thermal imaging to check for leaks in masks worn by healthcare workers.
The second new prize is the $2,500 Cambia Grove Best Idea for Addressing Health Access and Disparities Prize. Judges awarded OsmoProcessor, a team of UW bioengineering, mechanical engineering, and business students, the prize for its approach to improving the accuracy of a diagnostic device that is commonly used in low-resource settings to detect pathogens or biomarkers.
The $2,500 Kent & Lisa Sacia Best Idea in Digital Health Prize went to Community Collaboratory. The team of UW nursing and biology students is developing a website and mobile app combination that allows adults with physical disabilities to offer and receive safe and flexible social support.
Judges awarded the $2,500 Herbert B. Jones Foundation Best Idea for a Medical Device to EVBreathe. The team of UW mechanical and electrical engineering students developed a novel device that automatically deploys and navigates the airway for a patient.
Finally, the newly named $1,000 Connie Bourassa-Shaw Spark Award was awarded to Direct Dose. The team of UW neurological surgery and mechanical engineering students designed an implantable device that could potentially reduce opioid use while also improving pain management following spine surgery. The Spark Award was formerly known as the “Judges Also Really Liked” (JARL) prize and recognizes teams that, in the eyes of the judges, just missed out on the top awards. It was renamed at the 2020 HIC in honor of the long-time former director (now retired) of the Buerk Center.
The 2021 awards were revealed to teams and judges in a special video presentation on the Buerk Center’s YouTube page following the event. Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge finalist teams (and the two alternates) represented regional colleges and universities from across the Pacific Northwest, including Washington and British Columbia. Students on the award-winning teams Mask Seal Testing and Under Pressure are also representing the Engineering Innovation in Health program at UW.
All teams who participated in the HIC (including those in the Screening Round) received detailed feedback from judges on how to move their innovations forward. HIC teams are also eligible to compete in the upcoming Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge (April 1) and the multi-stage Dempsey Startup Competition which begins in early mid-April.
You can find this press release and other stories from Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship right now on the Foster blog.