MIT Sloan Healthcare Innovations Prize
Obesity treatments, fertility tests, helpful parasites, and more!
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I had an awesome time last night hearing some incredible founders pitch their startups at the Sloan Healthcare Innovations Prize (SHIP). This event is a pitch competition open to student entrepreneurs innovating in the healthcare space. Previous winners include successful companies like Calla Health Foundation (First Prize in 2020), Vistapath BioSystems (Second Prize in 2020), and Umbulizer (First Prize in 2019).
Starting with the winners and in no particular order following, below are the nine finalists from this years MIT Sloan Healthcare Innovations Prize.
This year’s winner, taking home the grand prize of $20k, was SanaHeal. Rapid and effective repair of injured tissue remains challenging in many clinical scenarios. Thankfully, SanaHeal has created a solution that stops bleeding in seconds, even for those on blood thinners. Existing solutions to stop bleeding during surgeries take up to several minutes to work, costing healthcare providers valuable time and exacerbating medical costs. SanaHeal has developed a portfolio of six distinctive bio adhesives, all made from existing FDA approved materials that they have combined in a novel way.
The applications for this seem endless, expanding beyond the walls of surgical rooms to places like battlefields and boxing rings. With five million surgeries each year in the US and over 68% of those involving bleeding, it makes sense that SanaHeal is focusing on clinical settings to start. The demo videos they showed comparing their product to the competition were really eye opening (check out the videos on their website if you don’t have an aversion to blood).
SanaHeal already has a ton of exciting traction, including a number of platform technologies and pre-clinical studies published in prestigious peer-reviewed journals. (https://www.sanaheal.com/)
In second place, winning $4k, was Afya Pomoja. Afya Pamoja is elevating the voices of millions of Tanzanians to improve the quality of essential healthcare services.
Incorporated as a non-profit, Afya Pomoja has created a mobile phone based feedback service that connects clients who visit healthcare facilities to healthcare workers and public health decision-makers. They collect qualitative and quantitative feedback from patients after their visit, and surface this data to care providers to generate actionable insights that help drive improvements in service delivery. Their service is also integrated into government systems, allowing these institutions to better understand care quality at the facility level and appropriately allocate resources.
This company has an amazing mission and business model. Using SMS surveys the company is free for patients, paid for by government, and subsidized by mobile networks and services. They’ve already launched a pilot in five facilities, have a number of partners, and aggressive plans for expansion. (https://afyapamoja.com/)
Winning the audience choice award, and $1k, was Intune. Intune is the fitness destination for women over 50. They’re on a mission to help women do what they love longer. They offer personalized fitness programs curated by health experts to provide the right exercises for each customer’s individual needs.
With an increase in digital fitness and home workouts there are a ton of new options available, but few of these cater to the unique needs of women in this age group. One in two women in this category break a bone due to osteoporosis, and a staggering 82% of women surveyed by the Intune team had experienced recent injuries. Inspired by their own mother’s challenges with navigating fitness, Intune is partnering with health experts and leveraging digital tools to help women like this stay healthy longer. (https://www.intuneteam.com/)
The next six teams did an incredible job pitching as well!
Biosens8 is developing a blood progesterone test that can be used to predict fertility. Their numerical readout on blood progesterone reduces the stress, frustration, and confusion associated with fertility. Their test confirms ovulation 4-10 days earlier than the competition, and they are in the process of developing a continuous monitor for fertility as well (https://www.biosens8.com/)
Palm is an insurtech startup creating a health insurance marketplace that allows members of the Caribbean diaspora to insure family members back home. They’re starting with Haitians — only 4% of Haiti is insured and the country receives over $3.7B in remittances each year
Paracyte Bio is creating a drug discovery pipeline using natural parasites. They’re a parasite-derived immunomodulatory therapeutic platform selecting candidates from AI-predicted libraries with high-throughput screens. They’re initially targeting complement inhibitors and cytokine binding proteins
Aperture Biosciences is creating a near-real-time molecular analysis platform using repeated staining with antibody-associated fluorochromes. Their small, fine needle aspirates allow to them to monitor patients in an outpatient setting throughout treatment. Unlike other tools, this allows care providers to better understand how cancer changes during the treatment
Encreto Therapeutics is an organoid-based endocrine drug discovery platform using human GI stem cells coupled with high-throughput screening for inducers of enteroendocrine cell function. They’re initially targeting obesity and hoping to expand to type 2 diabetes and other diseases as well
INIA Biosciences is developing a platform technology using ultrasound stimulation to non-invasively modulate inflammation. Their wearable ultrasound device delivers therapy to a patient at home, and integrates with a digital health platform to enable real time physician monitoring and intervention. Their initial focus is on organ transplant rejection (https://www.iniabiosciences.com/)
I hope you enjoyed reading about each of these startups! If you want more of these recaps directly to your inbox, subscribe below. Next up I’ll be sharing a write up on this weekend’s MIT Climate and Energy Prize. Stay tuned!