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Mini Plate Reader Wins 5K for Excellence in Innovation from CIMIT’s CRAASH Course

Mini Plate Reader Wins 5K for Excellence in Innovation from CIMIT’s CRAASH Course

On July 14, 2016, CIMIT completed the third session of the CRAASH program, a course focusing on innovation in the healthtech space. Six teams presented final pitches at the end of the intensive 10-week program. Team “Mini Plate Reader” was a highlight among the six projects this semester.

Mini Plate Reader has developed the world’s first multiwell plate reader for anaerobic environments designed to help scientists more easily and cost effectively conduct research, took home CIMIT’s Award for Excellence in Innovation based on feedback from course accelerator executives and fellow peers.

“We are developing technology that we hope will enable radical changes in how cellular growth is measured,” says Jason Papin from Team Mini Plate Reader. “The CRAASH course and the fantastic mentorship from our Accelerator Executive helped us to crystallize our value propositions and business plans. Our team learned a tremendous amount from the CRAASH community.”

“It was great to see the value proposition evolve and solidify during the course and, as a result, a clear focus on a niche market from which the business could be built and expanded,” said Paul Tessier, CIMIT Accelerator Executive. “The team came a long way and are off to a great start to create a business.”

Other projects during the spring session also included a point-of-care platform that can test a single drop of blood and return results in less than 5 minutes, a portable and customizable microfluidic pump, a non-invasive device that directly measures iron stores, a novel needle to improve bone marrow aspiration yields with less pain, and a platform to improve the safety and quality of x-ray exams.

The next CRAASH session is scheduled for this winter. Learn more about how you can get involved with the CRAASH course here.


Learning to Commercialize Healthcare Innovation

Learning to Commercialize Healthcare Innovation

“4 out of 10 start ups fail because they’ve built something no one wants to buy,” says Mike Dempsey, CIMIT’s Entrepreneur in Residence and Accelerator Program Leader. “They haven’t taken the time to ask the tough questions to really understand their economic buyer.”

So, what does it take to successfully commercialize a healthtech innovation and bring it into clinical practice? That’s the question many clinicians and researchers with brilliant ideas on how to improve the sometimes-archaic healthcare systems ask themselves on a daily basis. In a world where research dollars are short and the imperative to improve access to high quality, cost effective care is a national priority, there is a critical need to improve the efficiency and likelihood of success by which these ideas become reality.

Enter the CIMIT CRAASH (Commercialization Readiness Assessment and Accelerator for Solutions in Healthcare) program. Like other healthcare commercialization programs CRAASH aims to improve translational research’s effectiveness and efficiency but is uniquely focused on getting teams out of the lab, and out of their comfort zones, to learn directly from patients, clinicians, payors, regulators, and funders under the guidance of successful healthcare entrepreneurs. The program has already been successful at helping teams bring their innovations to the next stage.

In addition to lectures, readings, and one-on-one coaching from a team of experienced healthcare executives, CRAASH challenges teams to complete 100 interviews during the rigorous 10-week program to deeply understand the ecosystem their innovation sits within, the economic buyer, the ultimate user, and other healthcare specific nuances their business will face.

These conversations are critically important to a company’s success. Without them you could be building something no one actually wants or needs–then you’ve wasted a lot of time, energy, and money in the meantime. CRAASH aims to mitigate these inefficiencies in the healthcare space and help bring useful healthtech to those that need it, faster, while building innovation capacity and helping participants learn how to contribute to an entrepreneurial endeavor.

BOLD Diagnostics, a young company focused on redefining the way blood pressure is monitored, signed up for CRAASH, at the recommendation of their program director at the Northwestern University Center for Device Development (CD2) program, to help with customer identification. However, what they learned over the course of the program ran much deeper from validating the clinical need, solidifying the value proposition, to ultimately finding the best fit in the market

“We definitely thought more broadly about the clinical need for our device. Once we stepped back and looked at our company from an 80,000 foot view, we were able to see the entire forest rather than focusing on trees,” said Kyle Miller, MD, MBA, Clinical Innovation Fellow. “We looked more broadly at other applications of our technology in the primary care, nephrology, and obstetrics space. We were also able to organize customer feedback into a deliverable that helped with our pitch to investors.”

Since the completion of the course, BOLD Diagnostics has gone on to win 4th place in the 2016 RICE Business plan competition, the worlds richest and largest graduate-level student start-up competition. 

“The weekly CRAASH questions definitely helped us during the question and answer periods of each round and helped us think through each aspect of our company, from the value proposition to the business model,” said Kyle Miller. “The judges, who were all investors from the South, hit on each point that was covered during the CRAASH course. Thanks to our participation, we were very well prepared and demonstrated our ability to execute on our proposed business strategy.”

All teams learn to be open to changing their thinking and are often surprised about what they find when they throw out their preconceived notions and get out of the lab to have meaningful conversations with people from all areas of the healthcare ecosystem. The results, whether it be a pivot, the discovery of a new market, or a deeper understanding of the path forward, lead to a greater chance of commercial success and positive impact on patient care.

Originally published on ILN Insights.


PhotoniCare Wins CRAASH Prize For Excellence In Innovation

PhotoniCareOn April 8, 2016, CIMIT hosted 9 project teams during the closeout session for the winter session of its CRAASH course. Teams took to the podium to present final pitches; the culmination of 10 weeks of intensive work to accelerate their healthtech innovations out of the lab toward commercialization and clinical practice, with PhotoniCare standing out as a leader among the strong teams who participated.

PhotoniCare, a company that has developed a handheld imaging tool that sees through the eardrum to give a more accurate view of the middle ear, took home CIMIT’s top award for excellence based on feedback from course mentors and fellow classmates. Currently, the frequent misdiagnosis (~50%) of ear infections in children leads to inefficient or harmful treatment choices. PhotoniCare hopes their solution will enable quick, easy, and accurate diagnosis to elicit fundamental changes to the way ear infections are managed, from the first patient visit.

“Over the course of the CRAASH program, we really grew to better understand the pain points physicians have when diagnosing and managing ear infections”, said Ryan Nolan, PhotoniCare’s Director of Clinical Development & Co-founder and CRAASH Entrepreneurial Lead. “Through our customer interviews, we learned a lot about not only our customer, but also their workplace ecosystems and the market opportunity as a whole. This program and the invaluable 1:1 mentor relationship helped us accelerate our efforts in a very real way.”

“I really enjoyed mentoring PhotoniCare during this CRAASH session”, said Joel Weinstein, CIMIT Accelerator Executive. “It was clear to me from the start that PhotoniCare's ClearView™ was a promising technology that addressed a compelling clinical need and was being developed by an energetic, enthusiastic, team who were also good listeners.”

Other projects during the winter session included a point-of-care solution for routine diagnostics, a patch blood pressure monitoring system, a novel platform for trans-cardiac, direct-vision, beating-heart surgery, a solution to ensure patients at risk of anaphylaxis have an epinephrine auto-injector with them at all times, a device which can selectively remove cytokines in critically ill patients, a wearable device to improve sleep without drugs, a microfluidic chip to extract, amplify and detect HPV, and a smartphone device to help read TB tests remotely.

“The CRAASH course, through hard work, commitment, and expert mentorship, helps teams to refine the thinking around their healthtech projects”, said Mike Dempsey, CIMIT’s Entrepreneur in Residence and Accelerator Program Leader. “At the end of this 10-week session, I could clearly see each team had made measured progress in moving their projects forward along the path to commercialization.”


BOLD Diagnostics, LLC Places Fourth Place In 2016 Rice Business Plan Competition

BOLD Diagnostivs, LLC Places Fourth Place In 2016 Rice Business Plan Competition

Nearly $1.7 million awarded at world’s richest, largest student startup competition

HOUSTON – (April 16, 2016) – Bold Diagnostics, LLC from Northwestern University emerged as the fourth place startup company in the Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC) hosted by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship. The annual event is the world’s richest and largest student startup competition.

Selected by 275 judges from the investment sector as representing the best investment opportunity and taking home $128,000 in cash and prizes, Bold Diagnostics, LLC competed against 41 other competitors hailing from some of the world’s top universities.

Bold Diagnostics, Northwestern University -- fourth place and more than $128,000 in individual prizes.

Eight total prizes were awarded to the company including:

  • $5,000 Rice Business Plan Competition Fourth Place Award sponsored by EY
  • $25,000 Cisco Internet of Everything Innovation Challenge Prize
  • $25,000 TMCx Digital Health Accelerator Prize
  • $20,000 NASA Earth/Space Human Health and Performance Innovation Cash Award
  • $50,000 TiE RBPC Angel Investment Prize
  • $3,000 Best Written Business Plan sponsored by Palo Alto Software
  • Mercury Fund Elevator Pitch Competition 4th Place Prize
  • 2016 Rice Business Plan Competition Semi-Final Round Flight 21st Place Award

Bold Diagnostics, LLC is a Northwestern University startup that is developing the future of blood-pressure monitoring with an innovative platform. The company’s patent-pending technology is currently being validated through an IRB approved study at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The team members include Northwestern University Center for Device Development (CD2) Fellows Jay Pandit, Kyle Miller, Sean Connell and Andrew Wu.

The prizes were presented tonight at a banquet at the Hilton Americas-Houston that concluded the three-day event, which began April 14.

This year’s competitors were the most diverse in the history of the competition and came from top universities around the globe. The teams were chosen from nearly 400 entrants to compete in four categories: life sciences; information technology/Web/mobile; energy/clean technology/sustainability; and other. Each team made its case in 15-minute investment pitches and a rapid-fire 60-second elevator-pitch contest on the first night of the competition.

Since the RBPC’s inception in 2001, when nine teams competed for $10,000, more than 161 competitors have gone on to successfully launch their ventures and are still in business today; another 15 have successfully sold their ventures. Past competitors have raised in excess of $1.3 billion in funding and created more than 2,000 new jobs. The 16th annual RBPC was hosted by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship and the Jones School. For more information about the RBPC, visit www.ricebusinessplancompetition.com.