The real competitions each year are the BMEidea and BMEStart competitions, both of which have yielded some impressive winners. There have been quite a few commercial successes including a novel method for delivering oral vaccines that removes the need for refrigeration and a low cost ventilator for use in low-resource or epidemic situations. I am probably most proud of the projects that have realized a vision for addressing the needs of people who have limited access to advanced health care by creating affordable and appropriate solutions, such as the KMC Apne Apert, a breathing monitor for neonates that can be used in traditional kangaroo carrier care. Developed for use in South Africa initially it has the potential to improve health outcomes worldwide.
Some other examples of BMEidea winners:
- Rotavirus Vaccination via Oral Thin Film Delivery, Johns Hopkins University
- OneBreath, Stanford University
- KMC ApneAlert, Northwestern University
All of the winners are listed here.
And of course, there's often overlap between BMEidea winners and Open Minds participants. It's wonderful for us to see our teams progress through the NCIIA development pipeline and take advantage of the many opportunities we provide for support on both financial and mentoring levels.
How do you select the participants? Is there a lot of competition?
The OPEN MINDS event is the culmination of a competitive multistage process through which we select the top 10 to 12 student innovators (or teams of innovators) in the nation, out of an average of 50 or more applicants. We work, both in internal review and with volunteers who are experts in the field, to choose from among the most promising of our current grantees, based on their creativity and the commercial viability of their projects. Winners for the BMEidea competition are selected by a more conventional process, pulling from an external panel of judges from industry and academia with many years of product development experience and deep medical, technical, and market knowledge. Judges read and score the submissions against a rigorous set of criteria that take into account the level of innovation, the market potential, the regulatory pathway, and the quality of the presentation submitted. Through discussion a group of finalists is selected and ranked.
How do you feel about the current educational opportunities available for aspiring young innovators. Are there any changes you'd like to see?
To learn to innovate there is a need for more experiential learning opportunities. Current educational practice does not provide enough of these opportunities. I would like to see more programs that enable young people to pursue opportunity based on scientific and technological innovations. BMEidea and BMEstart are two competitions that provide targets and a competitive environment to stimulate excellence.