Student entrepreneurs dazzled at the 2018 Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge, hosted by the UW Foster School’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship. Intricate prototypes and innovative solutions to today’s health and healthcare problems were on display from twenty-two teams of college students—prompting many judges to call this year’s competition “the best one yet.” The $15,000 Hollomon Family grand prize went to A-Alpha Bio, a team of University of Washington Bioengineering PhD students and recent graduates.
A-Alpha Bio developed an AlphaSeq technology which improves clinical trial success rates by helping pharmaceutical companies fully characterize their drug candidates in the pre-clinical stage. The team previously won the $2,500 Perkins Coie Best Innovation Idea Prize at the 2017 UW Business Plan Competition, and recently completed the Jones + Foster Accelerator.
The $10,000 Herbert B. Jones Foundation second place prize went to OLA Simple. The team of UW Bioengineering and Electrical Engineering graduate students developed a point-of-care technology platform that aims to revolutionize the diagnostics, predictive outcomes, and targeted therapy for genetic disorders and conditions.
The nearly 100 health and healthcare entrepreneurs, medical experts, and investors who judged the teams awarded the Fenwick & West $5,000 third place prize to ACBI (Automated Continuous Bladder Irrigation). The team of UW Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering graduate students created a device that makes continuous bladder irrigation treatment less time intensive and expensive, while reducing the risk of complications for patients. ACBI previously won a $1,000 JARL award (Judges Also Really Liked) at the 2017 Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge.
The scoring was so competitive that judges decided to award three JARL awards at this year’s competition. One went to CoreView, a UW team of business and information systems students who developed a new kind of automation related to preparing a needle biopsy specimen. ElectroActive, a team of Washington State University engineering and architecture, business, and communication students, received a JARL for their chronic wound healing device that does not require the use of topical antibiotics. The final JARL award went to Nanodropper, a team of UW pharmacology, bioengineering, and business students. They created an affordable, universal eye drop adaptor which aims to reduce the cost, waste, and side effects normally associated with expensive prescription eye medications.
This was the third year of the Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge and the second under the Hollomon name. Timmie Hollomon, her son Steve, and their family contributed a large gift to the Buerk Center in 2017 in support of student creativity and innovation, focused on health and healthcare. At this year’s event, the Hollomon’s received special recognition from the Michael G. Foster School of Business for their continued generosity and commitment to students.
The Buerk Center will host two more competitions in the coming weeks. The Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge is coming up Thursday, March 29. The UW Business Plan Competition holds its Investment Round on Wednesday, April 25, followed by the Sweet 16 and Final Round on Thursday, May 24. Since 1998, more than a thousand student-created companies have come out of the Buerk Center and gone on to raise at least $400 million dollars in funding.