Blackstone LaunchPad Training the next generation of Medtech Innovators

Mike Wiebolt, Blackstone New York; Neil Ferguson, Blackstone LaunchPad; Dr Paul Anglim, BioInnovate Ireland; the winning team, students Kemi Awoponle, Katie Gilligan, Brian O’Reilly, Manmaya Panda, Cillian Thompson; Natalie Walsh, Blackstone LaunchPad; Joshua Chao, Blackstone LaunchPad; and Martin O’Halloran, TMD Labs and Health Innovation Hub Ireland.
Apr 18 2018 Posted: 11:25 IST

Campus competition in medtech demonstration design

Blackstone LaunchPad recently partnered with on-campus medtech titans, BioInnovate Ireland, Translational Medical Device (TMD) Lab, Health Innovation Hub and BioExel at NUI Galway, to challenge its undergraduate and postgraduate students to add their expertise and creativity to a growing innovation ecosystem across campus.

The Medtech Innovation Design and Startup (MIDAS) competition is a one-day event where multidisciplinary student teams from across the NUI Galway campus worked together to tackle a major challenge in the medtech space. Teams were comprised of students from various disciplines – ranging from business to engineering to medicine to the life sciences – and attended interactive sessions and workshops delivered by domain experts.

Six teams worked together to identify a potential solution to an unmet medical need using the Stanford Biodesign innovation process, and designed a prototype and created a business model for their device. 

Based on their observations from a real clinical procedure, teams were asked to identify a needs statement related to this procedure and then brainstorm potential solutions. With their solution in mind, teams then developed a business model using the lean startup canvas and ultimately, pitched their venture to a panel of experts including: Mike Wiebolt, Blackstone, New York; Helen Ryan, Medtech angel investor; Dr Liz McGloughlin, BioInnovate Alumna; and Brian Carey, Bank of Ireland.

Winning the competition and the recipients of the €2,000 prize fund were students Kemi Awoponle, Katie Gilligan, Cillian Thompson, Brian O’Reilly, and Manmaya Panda. The team presented a novel way to increase the shelf-life of blood bags in order to reduce the number of expired units that are binned each year.

Natalie Walsh, Executive Director of Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway, said: “This event showcased the high calibre of students that we have at NUI Galway. Seeing individuals come together to form high-performing teams within the day has been incredible. The ideas presented were well-researched and have potential within the medtech space. We are delighted to have such high calibre mentors, partners and judges spend time with our students today. It is a real endorsement for our programme and exemplifies how students can form part of this critical ecosystem in the West of Ireland.  This event was designed and led by one of our fantastic students Joshua Chao who works as a venture coach with the LaunchPad programme. He is an amazing ambassador for our programme and a real champion for student-led innovation and entrepreneurship at the University.”

The success of the MIDAS competition has come on the back of a very productive few months for Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway. The programme now supports over 5,000 students on-campus and in March 2018, the Blackstone LaunchPad global network announced a partnership with Techstars. Techstars will provide current Blackstone LaunchPad participants with access to their network of over 10,000 mentors, founders and investors; signature events; and world-renowned content and startup services. In the last 10 years, more than 1,000 Techstars portfolio companies have collectively raised over $4.4 billion in total funding, and are now valued at $11.4 billion.

Blackstone LaunchPad is part of a portfolio of innovative programmes at NUI Galway supported by the Galway University Foundation; other programmes include BioInnovate, BioExel, EXPLORE, and TechInnovate.