Bac-Off, a long lasting antibacterial solution for textiles that targets reducing hospital acquired infections, and Memora Health, a personalized healthcare solution, were the top teams in the 2016 Ideas to Serve (I2S) Competition at Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business.
Team Bac-Off, led by materials engineering student Shawn Gregory, won the Ideas Track designated for early stage projects and Team Memora Health, led by biochemistry major Manav Sevak, took the top seat in the Advanced Track. Ideas Track runner up and recipient of the Best Poster prize was Team Eating Right, a mobile health tool that addresses the realm of dietary restrictions for diabetes patients with inadequate access to health information. Three teams received honorable mention in the Ideas Track: Shocheton, MedDrone (who also won Best Video), and Be Safe. The People’s Choice Award went to Team Abeba, a one-for-one model for a feminine hygiene product serving women in the developing world.
Open to all Georgia Tech students and recent alumni, I2S is a competition of ideas where creativity, imagination, and technology are applied to solving social and environmental problems. The finals were held on April 8 in the Scheller College of Business.
“About a year ago when my supervisor’s son caught an infection in the hospital, I used my chemistry background to start the idea of an antimicrobial solution in a bottle,” Shawn Gregory of Team Bac-Off explained. “With the guidance of our mentors, Prof. Mark Losego and Prof. Todd Sulchek, we were able to make this idea a reality.” Team Bac-Off plans to reinvest the winnings in the company to obtain a patent and license for the product, which they said was key in influencing larger companies like Kimberly-Clark and P&G to get on board with their product.
When asked where he sees the project going in the next year, Manav Sevak of Team Memora Health said they are looking to capitalize on all the valuable feedback they are currently receiving from doctors and patients, wrap up Phase 1 pilot studies, and have one or two full-time contracts with partner hospitals in the U.S. In December the team that consists of four Georgia Tech students and two Harvard University students will travel to India to conduct a large-scale study to evaluate how their platform that originated during a hackathon performs in underdeveloped communities, and to conduct market research specific to India. “The winnings from I2S will go toward helping run pilot studies with more academic hospitals to gain clinical validation for our product as well as towards supporting server hosting costs,” said Sevak.
Altogether, I2S awarded $10,000 in cash prizes, but as many of the participants agreed, a more valuable outcome of the finals were the connections made with the Atlanta social enterprise sector represented at the event through the judges, mentors, and sponsors. “I’ve attended Georgia Tech’s I2S competition for several years. It never ceases to inspire. Every year the students’ concepts get stronger and their business plans get more robust. It’s no small thing that an institute of Georgia Tech’s caliber offers a platform for students to share their ideas for changing the world. I look forward to providing any guidance or assistance I can as they move their ideas from concept to reality,” said Ideas Track judge Jason Chernock of Medshare.
While many participants go on to other careers, some continue work to take their concepts to market after graduation. For I2S teams with greater entrepreneurial interests, the Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship (ILE) offers the Global Social Ventures Competition (GSVC), an opportunity to measure concept strength by competing with teams around the world. “The synergy between the two competitions provides a great advantage to our students, strengthening the ecosystem of creativity at Georgia Tech. We look forward to seeing some of this year’s I2S teams apply for GSVC in the fall,” said Dori Pap, assistant director of ILE.
I2S is generously supported by Gray Ghost Ventures, Georgia Tech LEAD Program, Cecil B. Day Program for Business Ethics, Steven A. Denning Technology and Management Program, Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business, Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business, The Center for Health and Humanitarian Systems, The Center for Serve-Learn-Sustain, Georgia Tech Innovation and Design Collaborative, Speechworks, Tedd Munchak Chair in Entrepreneurship, and VentureLab.
“Every year the projects improve, and more and more students are drawn to work on sustainable solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. It’s great to see that social and environmental innovation – something that ILE has been supporting for a long time – is not a niche endeavor anymore, but a mainstream goal,” Pap added. “We are proud to have a student body that is passionate about creating better communities around them and across the globe. They definitely have the skills to bring that change.”
Video pitches from participating teams are available on the I2S page. Photos of the event are available on ILE’s facebook page.