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Six firms prevail in Upstate Medical’s 2019 medical device innovation challenge

By Eric Reinhardt


Upstate Medical University has announced the six winners of this year’s medical device innovation challenge. The initiative is sponsored by Upstate MIND (medical innovation and novel discovery center) at Upstate Medical’s Central New York Biotech Accelerator, which is seen in the photo. It’s located at 841 E. Fayette St. in Syracuse. (ERIC REINHARDT / BJNN FILE PHOTO)

SYRACUSE — The six winners of Upstate Medical University’s medical device innovation challenge (MDIC) are moving on with their products’ development. 

Upstate MIND (medical innovation and novel discovery center) at Upstate’s Central New York Biotech Accelerator (CNYBAC) sponsored the initiative, the medical school said in a news release.

The six-month program seeks to “promote understanding of and build networks for innovative and technology-driven biotech product and service development and commercialization” per Upstate Medical.

The winners include a shoulder-mounted intravenous (IV) system; urinary catheters with improved infection control; the transformation of well-known video games into respiratory therapy exercise; and an inconspicuous breast pump for moms, Upstate Medical said. 

With their wins, Upstate Medical provides the firms six months of free work space at the “creation garage” at the CNYBAC. They’ll also have access to Upstate Medical research and clinical experts along with use of Upstate’s research facilities. 

Participants also have access to “intensive mentorship” from a group of medical-device product development, regulatory, commercialization, and legal experts. Collaborative partners involved in the program include Blackstone LaunchPad, which has a program at Syracuse University (SU); Innovation Law Center at SU’s College of Law; and Upstate Venture Connect of Syracuse.

Additionally, teams are invited to apply to student engineering capstone programs at Syracuse University and Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.

“The innovators in our region continue to find new ways and opportunities to enhance the health and well-being of patients or those with medical conditions,” Kathi Durdon, executive director of the Central New York Biotech Accelerator, said in the release. “Through this program, these innovators will find a ready supply of expertise, support and encouragement to move their products and ideas forward.”

Additional support for the program comes from the Empire State Development (ESD) New York State certified business incubator grant.

The Central New York Biotech Accelerator, which is located at 841 E. Fayette St., is part of Upstate Medical University. The 52,300-square-foot facility offers wet and dry labs, services, coordinated resources, targeted mentorship and education to individuals and startup companies involved in the commercialization of biotech innovation.

Winning businesses

Companies selected as MDIC winners include MedUX, of Syracuse, which is creating a shoulder-mounted portable IV system (called L-IV, for Liberating Intravenous) that allows people in hospital settings or disaster situations to get IV treatment “comfortably and efficiently” without being tethered to an IV pole, per the Upstate Medical release.

They also include Megan Thomas of Syracuse, who is developing a breast pump that can be used while women engage in daily activities, whether at the workplace or at home. The product’s goal is to eliminating the time women must spend solely on pumping. Thomas wants to enable women to pump in the physical workplace without the social stigma of having to seek a storage or break room.

In addition, Halamine Inc. of Ithaca is working to develop a new category of “hydrogel skin” coated urinary catheters with improved infection control. This coating innovation is based on a new composition of hydrogel materials (named HalaGel) that combines antimicrobial and anti-immunoreaction chemistries, which were invented by Cornell University biological engineering researcher Mingyu Qiao, co-founder of Halamine Inc.

The winning firms also include ZephyRx of Albany, which designs breath-powered video-game controllers so popular video games can be used in respiratory therapy for conditions, such as pneumonia, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Revital Therapeutics of New Jersey, which is a tissue engineering company dedicated to creating off-the-shelf tissue grafts for a wide range of conditions and surgical procedures; and CathBuddy Inc., of Woodbury, which is making reusable urinary intermittent catheters system for people with neurogenic bladder (the loss of bladder control due to brain or spinal cord or nerve problem).

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