Trust the process. As a 16-year member of the United States Air Force Reserve and now in his job as director of emergency management and business continuity at the University, Joseph Hernon has always followed that philosophy. And that’s why…
Industrial and Interaction Design Students Take Award-Winning Invention to Next Stage
Quinn King ’20 and Alec Gillinder ’20, industrial and interaction design (IID) majors in the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ (VPA) School of Design, are participating in a “Concept to Commercialization” boot camp as part of the Medical Innovation and Novel Discovery Center (MIND) at Upstate. They are part of an elite group of scientists, physicians, engineers, innovators, entrepreneurs, industry leaders and experts in research commercialization engaged in the boot camp.
The MIND program is located at the CNY Biotech Accelerator (CNYBAC), a state-of-the-art facility in Syracuse that helps connect biotech and medtech innovators in specific therapeutic or technological areas with a network of experts. CNYBAC collaborates with Syracuse University innovation resource providers such as the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars and the Innovation Law Center + NYS Science and Law Technology Center.
King and Gillinder were the first-place winners of the Invent@SU at Syracuse University campus program this summer for their “L-IV Liberating Intravenous,” a portable, lightweight device that could deliver intravenous (IV) fluids. A collaboration between the College of Engineering and Computer Science and VPA’s School of Design, Invent@SU augments the University’s entrepreneurship ecosystem in the area of device inventions. The six-week program immerses students in an iterative process of “design, prototype and pitch” as they develop tangible products following the Invention FactoryTM model.
Before teaming up at Invent@SU this past summer, King and Gillinder were close friends and passionate innovators. They went into the Invent@SU program with multiple ideas based on pain points they encountered and were able to narrow their idea down to a solution. That solution captured the attention of such industry judges as SU Life Trustee William “Bill” F. Allyn G’59, who with his wife, Janet “Penny” Jones Allyn ’60, recently made a major gift to the University to help fund the Bill and Penny Allyn Innovation Center and provide additional support for Invent@SU.
After winning the $5,000 first-place grand prize at Invent@SU, King and Gillinder decided to move forward to the next stage based on feedback from professionals and evaluators who provided both advice for and support of their idea. With their own experience in both tech and design, and working with a network of mentors through the Blackstone LaunchPad, the two felt ready to take on the challenge of moving to the next step.
The L-IV Liberating Intravenous grew from King and Gillinder’s own personal experience with the restrictive nature of IV treatment, after King’s mother underwent extensive chemotherapy when he was young. From that experience and unique perspective, they conceived a novel way to deliver infusion treatment, whether in hospitals, stand-alone infusion centers, at-home or hospice care, or in emergency or disaster situations. The challenge was to iterate ways to make IV delivery more portable, while maintaining uniform flow rate. The result was their prototype for Liberating Intravenous (L-IV), a lightweight and portable option to make IV treatment more versatile from the user perspective. A pressure infuser system is embedded in the device that enables delivery of high amounts of IV fluid quickly in the case of an emergency or when a patient may not be in a stable position.
From that concept, and working with the Blackstone LaunchPad, the team formed the venture, MedUX, a medical product design and research firm creating innovative solutions for inpatient, at-home and mobile care. The goal is to create medical products that better considers the users’ needs while still providing optimal care. The L-IV Liberating Intravenous will be the first product.
“Medical products are often only designed for function and lack the consideration for the users’ needs,” says King. “The medical field is always evolving, and there is still a need for better designed and considered products. Our company is flipping the approach of how to consider medical health care design.”
“Health care needs to consider patients as customers,” adds Gillinder. “Patients want mobility and more personal control, and health care providers want more innovative solutions. Using new and preexisting technologies, we hope to develop a line of products that are considerate of the user, ergonomics and effective function. Our company will accomplish this through extensive customer discovery with medical staff and patients to understand the problem and devise optimal solutions.”
Participating in the “Concept to Commercialization” boot camp is helping King and Gillinder understand their product development roadmap by working with patent experts, medical device experts and those who are experienced with the regulatory environment and FDA approval process. The Blackstone LaunchPad will be working with them on their business model, helping get them investment-ready and developing a strategy to raise funds to take them from concept to commercialization. The team has already filed a provisional patent through Invent@SU and will now be working with the University’s Innovation Law Center on a patent landscape report.
King and Gillinder are now focusing on customer discovery and creating a business plan. They also plan to sharpen their pitch skills, as that was their biggest challenge throughout the Invent@SU program. They were able to turn this hurdle into a learning experience, Gillinder says: “We grew a lot and changed a lot, especially how to be professional and present our ideas in a compelling way.”
The team plans to pitch in campus competitions for seed funding. Although it is a great deal of work to take their idea to the next stage, King and Gillinder are incredibly positive. “It doesn’t feel like hard work when we’re working really hard and having fun,” says Gillinder. “It makes you work better as a team and be more productive.”
King credits their experience in the IID program for giving them the opportunity and resources to improve upon fabricating skills along with the design process. “On top of our program, which helped us learn to ideate quickly and effectively, we gained valuable skills on how to gather information through interviewing and testing out in the field,” he notes.
“Louise Manfredi has been an amazing addition to the IID faculty and helped us tremendously throughout the competition and as a professor,” says King. “She has a perspective and the practical skills of an engineer and brings it to design, which is incredibly useful and much needed in industrial and interaction design.”
Those who want to meet these innovative designers that are bringing a new perspective to medical devices may stop by the Blackstone LaunchPad in Bird Library or the School of Design in the Nancy Cantor Warehouse, where they can be found working. Or come to a campus competition this fall and watch them pitch.