Innovative HealthTech Startups from EMRG Conference
The EMRG Innovation Conference is an exciting event designed to bring together the most promising startups founded by some of the brightest college students across America. While only 15 startups were selected to participate in the event – to compete for several prizes and a chance to impress many investors attending the conference – Impakter has teamed up with EMRG to showcase the most interesting and sustainable startups among those who applied to the 2018 Conference.
With the 2019 conference set for November, this is the right time to find out more about some of the most promising HealthTech startups that have applied to EMRG. According to the EMRG data, HealthTech was the category with the largest number of applicants in 2018. Let’s jump right in!
The Speak2 System is an innovative communication device designed to help intubated patients in hospitals communicate and control their surroundings. This solves a huge problem as many intubated/ventilated patients in intensive care units cannot speak and it adds extra stress which requires extra doses of sedation to calm the patients down. This starts a vicious cycle of sedation and inability to stop ventilation. Patients are often too weak and are tied to multiple tubes and wires which make it impossible for them to write their needs: this causes a huge amount of stress as patients feel like they have no control of their own situation
The Speak2 System solves this issue with a simple binary map which allows patients to answer yes and no questions via two-finger sensors. Answering these questions allow patients to communicate with nurses, contact friends and family, control the lights, control the television, control the bed, and control the temperature of the room. All these considerably alleviate the amount of stress suffered by patients.
Kubanda is a startup with one clear mission: bring breast cancer treatment to women in low resource areas worldwide by using their new low-cost cryotherapy device.
In low-and middle-income countries, more than 800,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year: unfortunately, almost half of those women will die within five years. While diagnostics capabilities in low resource areas have greatly improved in recent years, the huge disparity in survivability remains due to the lack of treatment capabilities. Lumpectomy and mastectomy — the only treatment modalities offered in these regions — are inaccessible requiring women to travel to a hospital that has such limited staff that those may not even see a doctor.
Kubanda solution is to bring treatment to the women who need it most via their local clinics through their percutaneous cryotherapy system. While existing cryotechnologies (which use cold to kill cells) employ non-reusable, bulky systems that rely on expensive and inaccessible argon or nitrogen gas and cost upwards of $25,000 per unit, Kubanda’s system is low cost, handheld, and does not require electricity, anesthesia, or an operating room. It is specifically optimized to run on carbon dioxide (CO2) a gas which, thanks to the globalization of the soft drink industry, can be found in even the most remote areas of the world.
Health 3D is a social venture creating 3D printed equipment to fill treatment gaps in healthcare. They focus on a rising need for customizable, patient-oriented medical devices for pediatric education therapies like medical play and desensitization. These therapies aim to teach a child about a particular medical procedure prior to them receiving the treatment, thereby reducing distress and increasing tolerance for previously traumatic procedures.
Even in high resource settings, pediatric patient education problems are overlooked by specialized medical device manufacturers: Health 3D printing allows them to tackle these complex projects with just a single image and description of the desired function. A customized computer-aided design (CAD) model can quickly be designed and assembled for testing within the program.
Penta brings used prosthetic devices from the United States to Vietnam and Thailand. By collecting devices that cannot be reused due to liability issues, Penta is able to recycle the vast number of prosthetic devices that are replaced each year in the US and bring functional, high-quality devices to amputees in Southeast Asia.
Thousands of functional prosthetic devices are being replaced annually in the US: while clinic managers in the US, who did know what to do with used devices besides letting them pile up, Vietnamese people – who have one of the highest rate of amputees in the population in South Asia – have welcomed them very warmly.
Penta also aims to show there are social entrepreneurship opportunities available in Vietnam, showing young people there the many ways in which they can serve others.
Koi aims to tackle the same issue of Penta, but with a different approach: according to the World Health Organization, there are 40 million amputees in developing countries, but only 5% have access to prosthetic devices. The cost of conventional prosthetic devices often surpasses the annual salary of many amputees in developing countries (i.e. the average annual salary in Vietnam is $1,206 USD). Also, prosthetic specialists who fit devices are often located in urban centers.
For all these reasons prosthetic devices are expensive and inaccessible and this is why Koi aims to create an affordable, one-stop solution that amputees can adjust to their unique physiologies. Traditionally, prosthetic sockets are custom-fit to the amputee’s residual limb through molding high-density plastics. This common process is not only dependent on specialist availability but it is also expensive ($10,000 USD).
The residual limb also changes in volume and shape over time, requiring constant re-fittings of the socket. To remove the need to undergo an expensive, specialist-required process, Koi is developing an easily adjustable socket that can fit residual limbs of various sizes. They are also developing a low-cost prosthetic knee because current low-cost solutions do not accurately mimic physiological gait, often leading to chronic hip aggravation and they are addressing the issue with an affordable, biomimetic knee.
For further information about EMRG, or if you want to sign-up for this year’s conference check out the EMRG webpage.
In the cover picture: Competitors sharing thoughts before Pitching at EMRG 2018 Photo Credit: EMRG Conference
EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com.