Technology that could help spinal-cord injury sufferers control their bladder by remote control won first place ($10,000) in the 2013 Georgia Tech Business Plan Competition.
This technology is being developed by the GoNow team, whose members are participants in Georgia Tech’s Technological Innovation: Generating Economic Results (TI:GER® program). TI:GER, a collaboration with Emory Law School, is the first program of its kind to bring together PhD, MBA, and law students in the classroom and research lab over two years to advance research into real business opportunities.
The winning GoNow team includes MBA student Alex Zavorski, MBA alumnus Pat Converse (2012), materials science and engineering PhD student Graham Sanborn, and Emory law students Adam Boger and Matt Parker.
The GoNow technology would involve a small device (about a third the size of an iPhone) implanted into a cavity in the back with wiring connecting to the nerves that control the bladder (allowing users to open and close urine flow as needed via remote control).
“With Go Now, no catheters are required,” explains team member Sanborn. “Catheters can be very time consuming to use and can be gateways for the bacteria that cause urinary tract infections, requiring users to take more drugs and go to the hospital more often. Our technology’s estimated cost savings would be $6,000 annually per patient.”
GoNow’s bladder control technology is based on Boger’s thesis research when he was a PhD student in biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University before law school.
Boger says his team is first targeting the spinal cord injury market with this bladder control technology because there are lower FDA barriers to approval to help this population. Currently, most spinal cord injury sufferers rely on urinary catheters.
Later, GoNow might market this technology to people suffering from neurological problems such as multiple sclerosis or general incontinence (a $20 billion market representing 7 million Americans).
GoNow has won a Small Business Technology Transfer Grant of $125,000 from the U.S. Small Business Administration and hopes to win FDA approval for its patented and patent-pending technology within three years.
In all, $23,000 was awarded during stages of the 2013 Business Plan Competition, leading up to the finals on March 8. Held at Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business, the annual competition is open to all graduate and undergraduate students at Tech as well as recent alumni.
More than 100 members of the community volunteered to participate as competition judges, team mentors, or workshop speakers. Starting in fall 2012, a series of workshops helped contestants prepare for the competition, covering such topics as intellectual property, entrepreneurial marketing, and finance.
The Clearview team placed second ($3,000) for its low-cost pathology device that would enable clinicians to evaluate the success of breast cancer surgeries before sending patients home. The use of Clearview during breast conserving surgery is expected to prevent about 66,000 reoperations by more accurately determining tumor margins. Clearview includes Georgia Tech biomedical engineering PhD student Alice Cheng and several students at Johns Hopkins University.
FloMera, another TI:GER team, won third place ($2,000) for an in-home breast cancer test that requires only a single drop of blood. This team includes mechanical engineering PhD student Billy Wang, MBA students Jimmy He and Jessica Walling, and Emory law student Ernesto Escobar.
UVNITY won the Most Commercializable Award (a package of $25,000 worth of financial, legal and other services) for its patent-pending water-disinfection technology employing ultraviolet light and filters in water bottles (targeted to travelers and outdoor enthusiasts). UVNITY includes Xiaohang Li, a doctoral student in electrical engineering, and undergraduate electrical engineering major Andrew Vaziri.
Sponsors of the 2013 Business Plan Competition included the College of Business, Georgia Tech's Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship, GREENGUARD Sustainability Institute, Advanced Technology Development Center, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, Troutman Sanders, Hi Tech Partners, Atlanta Technology Angels, Delaney, HLB Gross Collins PC, Executive Entrepreneurs Society, and Bondurant Mixson & Elmore LLP.