April 18, 2013

‘Challenge’ reveals students’ tech transfer ingenuity

A strategy for commercializing a wireless electrocardiogram (ECG) has won top honors at this year’s TechVenture Challenge.

The team developing the wireless ECG includes (front row, from left) Raymond Lui, Susan Eagle, M.D., Rene Harder, (back row, from left) Mark Baglia, Franz Baudenbacher, Ph.D., and Jonathan Whitfield. (photo by Susan Urmy)

A strategy for commercializing a wireless electrocardiogram (ECG) has won top honors at this year’s TechVenture Challenge.

Now in its third year, the Vanderbilt University initiative teaches students how to turn patented ideas developed by Vanderbilt faculty members into marketable products.

This year six teams of graduate, business and law students presented strategies for commercializing different Vanderbilt inventions to a panel of judges with expertise in technology entrepreneurship.

“The TechVenture Challenge is a unique opportunity for researchers to explore the viability of their technologies outside of the lab,” said Alan Bentley, assistant vice chancellor for Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Development.

“Past teams have gone beyond the competition and are continuing to work to bring their technologies into the market place,” Bentley said.

The competition, held April 11 at the Nashville law firm Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, was co-sponsored by the Vanderbilt Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization (CTTC) and the Life Science Tennessee Academic Alliance, part of Life Science Tennessee.

The winning presentation pitched InvisionHeart, a smart health care platform and digital ECG that allows health care providers, first responders and patients to record and send current tracings of the heart’s electrical activity via a smartphone or tablet directly to physicians for interpretation.

The smart health care platform can be expanded to monitor activity, posture, blood pressure, fluid status and cardiac stroke volume.

It was developed by Franz Baudenbacher, Ph.D., associate professor of Biomedical Engineering; André Diedrich, M.D., Ph.D., research professor of Medicine and Biomedical Engineering; Susan Eagle, M.D., associate professor of Clinical Anesthesiology; Rene Harder, Ph.D. candidate in Electrical Engineering, and Jonathan Whitfield, M.Eng., biomedical engineer.

InvisionHeart could reduce the time of recording, interpreting and archiving an ECG from hours to minutes, and could save the nation’s health care system millions of dollars, second-year MBA student Raymond Lui said during his presentation.

Other team members were Akosua Badu-Nkansah, third-year graduate student in Biochemistry; Mark Baglia, first-year graduate student in Biomedical Engineering; Sarajane McMahon, first-year law student; and Shen Yin, fifth-year graduate student in Pharmacology.

Baudenbacher and Eagle were the team’s scientific advisers, and Josh Nickols, Ph.D., MBA, CEO of Memphis-based Infusense LLC, served as business mentor.

The challenge “was a great opportunity to see how a technology can be transferred to being a real product,” Baglia said. “It was also great to experience interaction and collaboration between the various schools at Vanderbilt.”

Baglia and his teammates each received $250 and a pass to attend and present at the Southland technology conference in Nashville in June.