VPA Industrial and Interaction Design students Quinn King ‘20 and Alec Gillinder ’20 are participating in a “Concept to Commercialization” boot camp” this fall as part of the Medical Innovation and Novel Discovery Center (MIND) at Upstate. They are part of an elite group of scientists, physicians, engineers, innovators, entrepreneurs, industry leaders, and experts in research commercialization engaged in the boot camp
The MIND program is located at the CNY Biotech Accelerator (CNYBAC), a state-of-the-art facility in Syracuse, which helps connect biotech and medtech innovators in specific therapeutic or technological areas with a network of experts. CNYBAC collaborates with Syracuse University innovation resource providers such as the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars and the Innovation Law Center + NYS Science and Law Technology Center.
King and Gillinder were the first place winners of the Invent@SU at Syracuse University campus program this summer. A collaboration between the College of Engineering and Computer Science and the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ School of Design, Invent@SU augments the University’s entrepreneurship ecosystem in the area of device inventions. The six-week program immerses students in an iterative process of “design, prototype and pitch” as they develop tangible products following the Invention FactoryTM model.
Before teaming up at Invent@SU this past summer, King and Gillinder were close friends and passionate innovators. They went into the Invent@SU program with multiple ideas based on pain points they encountered, and were able to narrow their idea down to a solution. That solution captured the attention of industry judges such as Syracuse University Life Trustee William “Bill” F. Allyn G’59, who with his wife, Janet “Penny” Jones Allyn ’60, recently made a major gift to the University to help fund the Bill and Penny Allyn Innovation Center and provide additional support for Invent@SU.
The team won the $5,000 first place grand prize at the Syracuse campus competition, and decided to move forward to the next stage, based on feedback from professionals and evaluators who provided both advice and support of their idea. With their own experience in both tech and design, and working with a network of mentors through the Blackstone LaunchPad, the two felt ready to take on the challenge of moving to the next step.
Their invention grew from their own personal experience with the restrictive nature of intravenous (IV) treatment, after Quinn’s mom underwent extensive chemotherapy when he was young. From that experience and unique perspective, they conceived a novel way to deliver infusion treatment — whether in hospitals, stand-alone infusion centers, at-home or hospice care, or in emergency or disaster situations. The challenge was to iterate ways to make IV delivery more portable, while maintaining uniform flow rate. The result was their prototype for Liberating Intravenous (L-IV), a lightweight and portable option to make IV treatment more versatile from the user perspective. A pressure infuser system is embedded in the device that enables delivery of high amounts of IV fluid quickly in the case of an emergency, or when a patient may not be in a stable position.
From that concept, the team formed a venture, MedUX, working with the Blackstone LaunchPad, a medical product design and research firm creating innovative solutions for inpatient, at home, and mobile care. The goal is to create medical products that better considers the users’ needs while still providing optimal care. L-IV, developed through Invent@SU will be the first product.
“Medical products are often only designed for function and lack the consideration for the users’ needs,” says King. “The medical field is always evolving, and there is still a need for better designed and considered products. Our company is flipping the approach of how to consider medical healthcare design.”
“Healthcare needs to consider patients as customers,” adds Gillinder. “Patients want mobility, and more personal control, and health care providers want more innovative solutions. Using new and pre-existing technologies we hope to develop a line of products that are considerate of the user, ergonomics, and effective function. Our company will accomplish this through extensive customer discovery with medical staff and patients to understand the problem and devise optimal solutions.”
Participating in the boot camp is helping them understand their product development roadmap by working with patent experts, medical device experts and experts who are experienced with the regulatory environment and FDA approval process. The Blackstone LaunchPad will be working with them on their business model, helping get them investment ready, and developing a strategy to raise funds to take them from concept to commercialization. The team has already filed a provisional patent through Invent@SU and will now be working with the SU Innovation Law Center on a patent landscape report.
King and Gillinder are now focusing on customer discovery and creating a business plan. They also plan to sharpen their pitch skills, as that was their biggest challenge throughout the Invent@SU program. They were able to turn this hurdle into a learning experience, Gillinder says, “We grew a lot and changed a lot, especially how to be professional and present our ideas in a compelling way.”
The pair looks forward to developing further embodiments, with Quinn noting, “For us, it’s about the medical user experience.” This perspective is reflected in their company name, MedUX, which focuses on medical device product development from the user perspective, as opposed to an industry vantage – which in some cases, has not changed in 100 years, such as infusion delivery. “Right now, in this industry, devices are built for functionality, but not necessarily for the patient experience. Our company’s mission is to change the way that people see biomedical devices.”
The team plans to pitch in campus competitions for seed funding. Although it is a great deal of work to take their idea to the next stage, King and Gillinder are incredibly positive. Gillinder says, “It doesn’t feel like hard work when we’re working really hard and having fun. It makes you work better as a team and more productive.”
King credits their experience in the VPA IID program for giving them the opportunity and resources to improve upon their fabricating skills along with the design process. “On top of our program which helped learn to ideate quickly and effectively, we gained valuable skills on how to gather information through interviewing and testing out in the field.”
“Louise Manfredi has been an amazing addition to the IID faculty and helped us tremendously throughout the competition and as a professor,” adds both King and Gillinder. “She has a perspective and practical skills of an engineer and brings it to design which is incredibly useful and much needed in industrial and interaction design.”
To meet these innovative designers who are bringing a new perspective to medical devices, stop by the Blackstone LaunchPad in Bird Library or the Warehouse, where you will find them working. Or, come to a campus competition this fall and watch them pitch.