Newswise — (Salt Lake City) — What will be the next great product on the marketplace to improve medicine?
Will it be a skin graft dermatome that can be taken to underdeveloped countries for treating patients on outreach missions? A computer game designed to reduce stress levels and help communication skills for psychotherapy patients? A portable 3D surgical microscope that can easily transported to remote areas for vascular repair surgeries? Mobile technology designed to help physicians better navigate the diverse cultural, religious and ideological mindsets they encounter with patients in the exam room?
These ideas are among inventions by University of Utah students that will be showcased on April 9 during the fourth annual Bench-to-Bedside (B2B) competition at the Utah State Capitol Rotunda, 6 to 9 p.m., 350 North State Street.
The Bench-to-Bedside program is designed to introduce medical students, engineering students and business students to the world of medical device innovation. Student teams form into multidisciplinary “start-up” companies and are given the task of identifying an unmet clinical need. Teams have the opportunity to connect with more than 100 University of Utah physicians from a broad area of specialties to serve as their consultants, key opinion leaders and stakeholders.
Teams have six months and a $500.00 development fund to create medical device concepts. Throughout the six-month time frame, students evaluate the intellectual property landscape, make a prototype for their product and construct a business plan. The program culminates at the April 9 competition. The team projects are evaluated and scored for business strategy, design quality and healthcare impact by a VIP panel of judges. The top teams are awarded more than $70,000 in prizes designed to serve as initial funding to support further project development.
This year’s group of student inventors will unveil another round of high-caliber products, many which are situated to move to the next phase of development following the competition said Patrick Loftus, a University of Utah medical student and student president of B2B.
The 2014 competition features a few changes from previous years, Loftus said. The B2B program created a mentor board composed of industry and community business experts. Each team has been paired with one of these mentors in the months leading up to the competition; each team has prepared a three-minute video about their product; each team has had access to help from two law fellows to help file patents and develop appropriate claims; and B2B has partnered with the Utah Entrepreneur Club to provide milestone funding to teams that have previously competed in the competition.
“In a world driven by healthcare innovation, B2B gives completely inexperienced students an opportunity to form a dynamic team composed of business, engineering, and medical students centered on a medical problem. There is currently no better opportunity for a student to prototype a product, develop a company, file a patent, and receive national attention – all within a year,” said Loftus.
John Langell, M.D., Ph.D., executive director of the University of Utah Center for Medical Innovation, noted that in its first three years, B2B engaged 205 students who worked together on 45 teams to create 48 new innovative medical devices. Nearly half of the first- and second-year medical student class participates in the program. Those numbers will continue to grow at this year’s competition, which also serves as an invaluable learning opportunity for students.
“Through the B2B program our students tap into University of Utah values of innovation, teamwork and unearthing new discoveries,” said Langell. “The competition highlights what we as educators at the U. already know: That our students are capable of transforming science and medicine in ways we never thought possible.”
For more information on the B2B program, visit: http://healthsciences.utah.edu/center-for-medical-innovation/students/bench-to-bedside.php