As most of us were polishing off Thanksgiving leftovers (for the third straight day), some of the Medical University of South Carolina’s best and brightest students got some delicious news of their own. Out of more than 60 from across the state, three MUSC teams that entered the inaugural SC Innovates Student Pitch competition finished in the top 15. In fact, first and second place came home to the Charleston-based medical college.
The event, which was the brainchild of Laura Corder, managing director of the SC Department of Commerce Office of Innovation and Bryan Davis, managing director of Furman University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute, offered the simple challenge: “Hey! Young minds. Help solve some of our bigger problems. ”
The result was a massive submission of entries, which were painstakingly whittled down to a final group of 16. Via Zoom, the teams made their five-slide, 90-second virtual pitches to a group who judged them based on how well they articulated the problem, how well they posed to solve it and – it wouldn’t be entrepreneurial without this last component – how successfully they could monetize their invention or solution.
In the end, MUSC students Subina Saini and Alan Snyder took home the top prize – a lion’s share of the more than $ 10,000 in prize money to help to make their idea a reality. Their idea, GlowDot, is a patented microencapsulated fluorescent ink that serves as an alternative to traditional carbon ink, which is used to mark lesions during colonoscopies.
According to Saini, with the current method, “up to 15% of tattooed tumor locations are incorrectly identified or wholly missed by the time of surgery.” Her team’s solution of lei would dramatically reduce those numbers as well as lower the overall costs to hospitals.
Second place went to students Marissa Brock and Chase Walton for their idea, Cancer Connect, a high-tech / high-touch solution to reduce the anxiety felt by cancer patients navigating treatment.
“Our solution is a bridge between technology and humanity,” Brock said. “If we can improve the cancer patient’s experience while reducing the cost to them, as well as the hospital, everybody is a winner.”
MUSC student Jordan Byrne’s idea, MedSafe E-Caddy, a more robust solution for medication compliance for transplant patients, placed 15th.
And for these students, whose ideas are now a step closer to becoming a reality through either funding or awareness, they are winners as well.
“We couldn’t be prouder of our student teams,” said Jesse Goodwin, MUSC Health chief innovation officer. “To take home the top two spots, and three of the top 15, is a real achievement.”