There are problems and then there are good problems. We once again received an overwhelming response, and the quality of your submissions blew us away! This made for an incredibly difficult selection process. It’s clear that although this past year has presented the world with unprecedented challenges, your resolve, steadfastness, and creative spirits have not been tempered one bit. After deadlocked deliberation by our selection committee and our desire to help as many as possible during these trying times, we opted to once again lift the constraints of the original award plan beyond the single $5,000 award to include the addition of $2,500 awards to two other exceptional finalists.
Using a weighted matrix, our team scored applications based on the following criteria:
We can't say it enough, but the recipients are a truly gifted collection of entrepreneurs who will surely do great things. We couldn’t be more thrilled about the potential to be a part of their journey and endurance during this critical time.
Drumroll please! And the 2021 awards go to..
We're so very pleased to announce that the first place, full $5,000 award goes to Awayr AI. Awayr’s mission is to enable designs of the future, with a relentless focus on end-user well-being and system performance. In 2009, co-founder Adam Beal was hit by a distracted driver trying to adjust his radio. In an effort to save others from similar fates, he and Dr. Ben D. Sawyer launched Awayr AI and began creating a new class of modeling and simulation AI that can model and predict human factors in ways not previously possible. Their critical innovations have the potential to save lives and improve driving safety for millions of people, while also decreasing the time it takes for futuristic technologies, such as vehicle autonomy, to make it to market.
Our thought bubble. We live in a distraction-fueled economy, and it’s coming at a great cost to driver and pedestrian safety. This seems like an incredible opportunity to apply advanced machine technologies to address preventable human failure. Backed by a team with a world-renowned automotive scientist and former Fortune 10 automotive strategy expert, we’re confident Awayr AI will deliver on its mission!
We’re excited to share that we’ve selected Aspirational Technology as our first runner-up, to receive a $2,500 award. Aspirational Technology is on a mission to end water poverty with an affordable and immediate solution to the global health crisis of waterborne diseases. They’ve developed an ultra low-cost, easy to use water filter for low income consumers in developing countries. Their filter is easy to use and screws directly onto the type of faucets commonly found in low-income houses. A family of five will spend less than a penny a day for water—less than any other filter available on the market in emerging countries. Their approach doesn’t end with a device, though. They’ve also architected a scalable and profitable manufacturing and distribution model centered around regional production that will create economic opportunity in developing countries and reduce carbon emissions from long supply chains. Added sustainability and environmental impact comes by way of a reduced carbon footprint compared to other clean water solutions since filtering water at home eliminates wasteful consumption of plastic.
Our thought bubble. Water, food, shelter – those are the essential needs and Aspirational Technology is tackling the most important in a very big, very scalable way. It’s tragic that anyone could be denied access to the most vital ingredient to life. Their mission is focused on a truly great cause, and we firmly believe they have the backgrounds and passion to make a big difference. Every startup says they’re trying to make the world a better place, but Aspirational Technology is actually going to do it!
We are delighted to report that we've selected Karybdis as our second runner-up, also receiving a $2,500 award. Karybdis aims to improve patient care in gynecological surgeries through technique and device innovation. Their product is a device that will increase the speed and safety of minimally-invasive abdominal laparoscopic hysterectomies. The current methods of operation take 30-60 minutes, and according to Karybdis, every single minute saved in the operating room saves the hospital approximately $100. Nearly 1/3 of all women in the United States will undergo a hysterectomy by the age of 60, and almost half of hysterectomies conducted in the U.S. are abdominal laparoscopic hysterectomies.
Our thought bubble. Given skyrocketing healthcare costs and the number of women impacted by this type of operation, disruption is essential. This innovation is both timely and necessary. Their group comprises an interdisciplinary team of graduate students at the University of Michigan from the schools of medicine, business and biomedical engineering – and they are backed by support from leaders in the field of Gynecology. Karybdis is a winning combination of a great idea and execution ability, with big potential for both societal and economic impact.
We certainly hope we'll be able to put COVID and its path of destruction in the rearview soon enough. Consistent with that and a strong urge to look forward, we're firmly committed to the RISE award being an annual fixture, but it will come back next year as the “Recognition for Innovative Startup Excellence” Award. We love helping entrepreneurs. It's what gets us out of bed in the morning. Getting to help even more in an epically difficult time has proved to be exceptionally rewarding for us and we're certain it will prove to be such for the recipients. Please stay tuned for updates on these great companies.
Digital Health Entrepreneurship
Aurora is partnering with InnovatorMD and our good friend Lindsay Klee, Founder of Intent Venture Management LLC, to deliver a two-part Master Class series on Digital Health Entrepreneurship. Our very own Ashley Sloat, Ph.D. will be the instructor for a Global and US Patents talk focused on the patenting of digital health technologies. Lindsay will follow-up with a class looking at the Regulatory and Reimbursement implications for digital health innovations.
Global & US Patents Master Class
Time & Location: Weds., May 12 | 5:00-6:30 p.m. PT | Live Webinar via Zoom
About the talk: Digital health technologies are pervasive in every aspect of life and will likely be the future of improving patient outcomes beyond the clinic. Using patents to provide a competitive advantage for companies in this space has never been more paramount, but also never more difficult. We’ll discuss the generalities of the US and international patent systems and the specifics around patenting digital health technologies, including artificial intelligence and machine learning innovations.
Tickets: $25 general admission provides full access to the class.
Regulatory & Reimbursement Master Class
Time & Location: Weds., May 19 | 5:00-6:30 p.m. PT | Live Webinar via Zoom
About the talk: Regulatory and Reimbursement Implications for Digital Health Innovations
Tickets: $25 general admission provides full access to the class.
About InnovatorMD: InnovatorMD's mission is to globally advance the work of physician innovators and entrepreneurs delivering solutions that revolutionize patient care. They are a group of physician innovators from various backgrounds with a single vision - to spread physician innovation to the rest of the world and to have a positive impact on patient outcomes and physician wellness while moving the healthcare industry forward.
XLerateHealth 2021 (Flint, Michigan - held virtually)
Jul 15 - Sep 23 | Flint, MI, USA
XLerateHealth Flint is now accepting applications to their 12-week virtual acceleration program. Through the 12 weeks, companies will have the opportunity to work closely with four health systems, universities, and investors. Founders will have access to experienced coaches and mentors to build their commercialization strategy, including their intersection with customers, payers, and providers.
About the XLerateHealth Program
XLerateHealth was founded in 2013 and is one of the oldest and most visible healthcare accelerators in the United States. XLerateHealth's team has a unique depth of knowledge in successfully developing healthcare and life sciences startups. They are enterprise-focused and help early stage healthcare companies validate their business model, build out their commercialization strategy, and get ready to attract funding (both non-dilutive and non-dilutive). In its 9 year history, XLH has received recognition from both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) for its work.
All that and a great talk
Aurora's President and Director of Patent Strategy, Dr. Ashley Sloat, will also be participating and delivering an IP Strategy Talk at 9:00 AM on July 22.
We're thrilled to be welcoming Shelley Couturier to the Aurora family! Shelley joins us this week, starting her role as a Patent Strategist and Search Specialist. She brings with her a wealth of experience and a very deep talent stack that perfectly combines business acumen, product development smarts, patent strategy insights, and meticulous search abilities. She's a joy to work with and without a doubt, will be an instant asset to our clients and their portfolios. Shelley will head up our search services and also be actively involved in patent portfolio management.
Patent Strategist. Shelley is a registered USPTO patent agent with over 20 years of experience in patent drafting and prosecution as well as extensive prior art searching, ensuring clients’ emerging products are knowledgeably designed and protected. Previously with Scientific-Atlanta (acquired by Cisco), she was responsible for a large telecommunications portfolio, which included hardware and software along with its various transport standards and protocols.
Search Specialist. Shelley has extensive experience as a search analyst researching and reporting on prior art for numerous law firms and corporations that were involved in litigation, product development, and licensing opportunities. These searches included patentability, infringement, non-infringement, validity, invalidity, freedom to operate, and state of the art in a range of technology areas, including electrical, electronics, optics, medical and biological equipment, gas and petroleum products, telecommunications, and manufacturing and business methods.
Having experienced all sides of the patent process and combined with her business knowledge, Shelley has a unique background where she is able to provide individual inventors, engineering R&D teams, and businesses with valuable insight as they develop their product roadmaps, new products, and strong patent portfolios.
Ashley Sloat, Ph.D.
Startups have a unique set of patent strategy needs - so let this blog be a resource to you as you embark on your patent strategy journey.