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CMI Team Success Story: 2018 Randall Family Big Idea Competition


By Akhil Aniff, CMI Fellow

On March 29th 2018, several teams that have received funding from the Center for Medical Innovation (CMI) participated in the Randall Family Big Idea Competition at the University of Pittsburgh. The Big Idea Competition, hosted by the University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute, allows teams of both undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in entrepreneurship and innovation to compete for funding of their new product ideas. 

We are pleased to announce that several of the CMI-funded teams won an award in the competition. The names of the projects, along with their descriptions and prize amounts, are listed below:

OcuDERM, 2nd Place ($15,000)

OcuDERM is an innovative solution to help improve emergency treatment of severe eye injuries. For instance, treatment options for eye injuries have limited options that paramedics can provide. Specifically, a paper cup can be positioned over the eye and taped in place to hold a sterile dressing. This is a very poor way to immediately treat the injury, and it can often lead to serious infections down the line. 

Enter OcuDERM, a gel based bandage solution, that helps heal the eye immediately after the injury has occurred. The sterile gel can be applied to the point of injury by the paramedic and can be kept on the patient’s eye until arrival at the hospital. The OcuDERM team is currently in the Blast Furnace incubator program, also hosted by the Innovation Institute, and is pursing options to commercialize their technology. 

Steeltown Retractor, 4th Place ($2000)

Steeltown Retractor aims to design a motorized robotic arm to help reduce the complexity of performing open abdominal surgery. Abdominal surgeries can often be complicated to perform due to the diverse anatomy present, the depth of the incisions that have to be made as well as the fragility of the surrounding organs. The Steeltown Retractor is a solution that will help surgeons perform skin retractions in a hands-free way. The goal of the product is to help reduce overall surgery time which will therefore reduce the costs of health care. The team has formed a startup company, Atlas Technologies.

Read more about the other teams from the Swanson School of Engineering that placed at this year's Big Idea Competition here!