MIT linQ names 2018 IDEA² Global Awardees

12 finalist teams developed diverse new healthcare technologies in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology program

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS—MIT linQ, a healthcare innovation initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, recognized the 12 finalist teams of 2018 IDEAGlobal and award four with special citations for achievement. IDEAGlobal is an international mentorship program that helps emerging healthtech innovators to drive their new technology ideas toward healthcare impact.

The teams, which reached from the United States to Spain, Ireland, Costa Rica and Lebanon, represented research in range of disease and innovation areas including HIV, retinal disease, heart disease, and prosthetic surgery, among others. They joined IDEAGlobal to gain expertise and resources in market and customer research, business strategy, and patient-focused innovation.

“The teams are, like me, scientists and clinicians focused on the problem they’re trying to solve,” said Dr Mercedes Balcells-Camps, Program Chair of IDEA2 Global and a Principal Research Scientist at MIT. “During their six months in the program they have evolved to start thinking about how to make sure they will have a big impact on the problems they’re trying to solve.”

Four teams were chosen for special recognition:

  • FIPSE Medical Innovator Award, recognizing an IDEAGlobal team that exemplifies a spirit of innovation and
    multi-sector collaboration, went to Covergel,a team developing a patented first-in-class biogel for patients undergoing endoscopic resections, reducing the incidence of complications from 5% to 1% in preclinical data.
  • Cantabria Labs Award, recognizing a team whose project has the highest potential to change life quality of people, was given to Paciena Prosthesis, a team developing a product for girls born without vaginas that shortens surgical and recovery times, giving comfort to the patients, and resulting in savings for the health system.
  • IMES Award, recognizing a student team for research in the field of medical engineering or science, was given to TheGalenband, whichhas designed a wrist-worn heart rhythm monitor to detect intermittent atrial fibrillation (AF), a leading cause of heart failure and stroke.
  • Panelists also selected The Ascites Management App for honorable mention. The team is developing a smartphone app to help liver cirrhosis patients and their doctors prevent or control ascites, or free fluid in the abdomen, that can be painful, cosmetically unappealing, and is associated with a poor prognosis.

Teams were recruited to the program in the spring and were matched with technical experts and mentors who helped them develop their technologies and ventures. Over the following six months, they meet with these people, and also received training in innovation methods and communication skills. They gathered a final time for a two-day concluding workshop to review progress and get final advice for future work.

Other teams included in the 2018 cohort were:

  • CDSAMVIR: A strategy to fight against viral retrotranscription and contain HIV
  • Open Retinoscope: A device to diagnosis retinal diseases
  • CTCnanoSen: An innovative photo-engineering system for identification of circulating tumor cells to boost their impact for personalized treatment and to widen their clinical use to every patient with cancer.
  • “PEPSTOB” (Peptide to stop obesity): A novel and safe therapeutic pathway to treat obesity and fatty liver disease.
  • TNC Translational Neuroscience Center: A system to provide services for preclinical assays using patient-driven platforms to identify and validate drug targets.
  • Therapeutics by Ellie: A startup with functional neurocircuit tools to transform psychiatric drug discovery.
  • Bloomer Health Tech: Using advanced fabrics technology and machine learning, Bloomer will enable the inclusive and comprehensive development of new digital biomarkers for female-specific disease management & prevention
  • AugGi: Desigining a day-to-day companion app that empowers irritable bowel syndrome patients to individually, objectively and reliably track digestive symptoms and proactively manage the impact individual diet, activity, sleep, and mental health have on symptom triggers.

At the end of the two-day closing workshop, a diverse panel representing medical, technical, and business expertise heard final presentations of the teams. The panel included Joel Weinstein, President, MAVEN Medical Device Strategies; Orhun Muratoglu, Director of the Harris Orthopaedic Laboratory, and Director of the Technology Implementation Research Center (TIRC) at Massachusetts General Hospital; Sheryl Greenberg, MIT Corporate Relations Program Director; Guillermo García-Cardeña, Director of the Laboratory for Systems Biology at the Center for Excellence in Vascular Biology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Suelin Chen, CEO & Co-Founder, Cake; and Frances Toneguzzo, Executive VP at Nantkwest, Inc.

While the panel considered teams for special recognition, attendees asked questions of another expert panel who spoke about the challenges to innovation, and how to persevere. The panel, which was moderated by Norberto Malpica,Professor at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos and Scientific Director of the MVision Foundation in Madrid, included Ana Maiques, CEO of Neuroelectrics; Natalie Artzi, Assistant Professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School; Michael Cima, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT; and Laura Indolfi, CEO of PanTher Therapeutics, TED Fellow, Entrepreneur in residence at MGH Cancer Center.

Team members reflected on the progress they made during the six months of the program. Luis Castillón Torres, member of Open Retinoscope, said, “We learned about the pathway to the market for our product…we have developed IP, regulatory commitments, and technical capabilities that we didn’t have before.” Jose Luis Fernández Luna, member of CTnanoSen, said, “Our mentors helped us focus on the most innovative part of our project, so now we use our real expertise to address a problem we know how to solve.”

In the end, each team felt they had brought their technology closer to the possibility of patient impact. “IDEA helped us translate our big vision into concrete steps to achieve our goals of building this company,” said Alicia Chong, co-founder of Bloomer Health Tech.

IDEAGlobal, which is hosted by the MIT Institute for Medical and Engineering Sciences (IMES), was sponsored by FIPSE, and Cantabria Labs and was a collaboration with partners the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, MIT Hacking Medicine, The MGH Medical Innovation Program, and Boston Landing. Organizers plan to launch a new round of recruiting in spring 2019. To learn more about IDEAGlobal, please visit http://idea2.mit.edu or contact Mercedes Balcells at merche@mit.edu.

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About MIT linQ
MIT linQ is a new collaborative initiative focused on increasing the potential of innovative research to benefit society and the economy. linQ’s portfolio of international innovation programs demonstrate a new paradigm for technology research and training. Learn more at http://linq.mit.edu