Bench-2-bedside competition to showcase Utah students’ medical innovations

The innovations are ready to be unveiled. After six months of research, planning, problem-solving and light-bulb moments of inspiration, more than 20 teams of University of Utah students participating in the fifth annual Bench-2-Bedside competition will showcase inventions that could change the way medicine is delivered. The event will be held Wednesday April 8, 6-9 p.m. at the Utah State Capitol Rotunda, 350 N. State Street.

The Bench-2-Bedside program is designed to introduce medical students, engineering students and business students to the world of medical device innovation. Student teams form interdisciplinary “start-up” companies and are given the task of identifying an unmet clinical need.

Last year’s competition yielded a varied crop of gadgets, devices and web apps. The four-student team behind an anti-infective intraocular needle took home the $15,000 grand prize. This year’s teams will vie for more than $70,000 in prizes designed to serve as initial funding to support further project development.

“Through the Bench-2-Bedside program our students tap into University of Utah values of innovation, teamwork and unearthing new discoveries,” said John Langell, M.D., Ph.D., executive director of the University of Utah Center for Medical Innovation. “The competition highlights what we as educators at the U. already know: that our students are capable of transforming science and medicine in ways we never thought possible.”

How it works

Teams have six months and a $500 development fund to create medical device concepts. Throughout the six-month time frame, students evaluate the intellectual property landscape, make a prototype for their product and construct a business plan. Teams have the opportunity to connect with more than 100 University of Utah physicians and other business people from a broad area of specialties to serve as their consultants, opinion leaders and stakeholders.

The program culminates at the April 8 competition. The team projects are evaluated and scored for business strategy, design quality and health-care impact by a VIP panel of judges.

Just the beginning

Several teams that started out in the Bench-2-Bedside competition have gone on to have business success. Two University of Utah teams — TroClosure and Veritas Medical — will compete with some of the world’s top universities for more than $1 million in prizes at the 15th annual Rice Business Plan Competition at Rice University, April 16-18.

“The University of Utah is a leader at developing medical technologies and start-up companies, and Bench-2-Bedside is a great example of how students are getting involved,” said Troy D’Ambrosio, Executive Director of the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, a University of Utah entity that works closely with Bench-2-Bedside. “In only a few years, the competition has received national attention and helped hundreds of students get the skills they need to be successful in their lives and careers.”

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