Entrepreneurial Institute

NYU Hosts First-Ever Healthcare Makerthon

New York University hosted its first-ever Healthcare Innovation Makerthon to identify opportunities to improve healthcare, facilitate cross-disciplinary collaboration, and launch new ventures. Top pharmaceutical and medical device companies, Pfizer and Stryker, partnered with NYU to drive innovation and entrepreneurship in healthcare and help bring them to market.

The idea for the Healthcare Innovation Makerthon grew from recognition that NYU uniquely possesses the diverse talent needed to tackle healthcare’s most pressing problems. As the largest private research university in the country, the community is comprised of world-class faculty, students, researchers, and healthcare professionals that are passionate about improving our nation’s healthcare system.

The initiative - a cross-disciplinary initiative between the School of Medicine and the Entrepreneurial Institute - was designed to have three phases: phase I was devoted to identifying healthcare challenges in need of solutions; phase II brought the community together to solve those challenges, and in phase III, teams will receive support and mentorship for their ventures from industry and innovation experts.

The Healthcare Innovation Makerthon is unique in its approach and design. NYU community members who are immersed in the healthcare system (healthcare providers, researchers, and staff) were engaged right from the start to identify the most pressing problems that need attention. This first phase, launched in September, generated tremendous interest, bringing in 300 challenges that impact healthcare systems across the nation.

After a competitive pitch competition, ten of those challenges were selected, rated on solvability and impact, to progress to phase II, where they became the basis of a two-day “Makerthon” weekend that took place November 13-15th. In preparation for the solution-building weekend, the challenge presenters were provided mentorship to maintain laser-sharp focus on the problem that needs an innovative solution.

Over 100 members from across the NYU community participated in the phase II Makerthon weekend, bringing in engineers, software developers, designers, business students, clinicians (doctors, nurses, therapists, speech pathologists and others), to design and develop solutions to the challenges identified in phase I. During the weekend, the NYU community came together to form multi-disciplinary teams and after an intense weekend of creation and discovery, brainstorming and mentorship, ideation and prototyping, sixteen teams demonstrated their solutions to a panel of judges comprised of entrepreneurs, venture capital investors and healthcare innovation experts.

The panel of judges was given specific criteria—technical feasibility, market viability, impact, demonstrability and team composition—to select four winning teams.

The sixteen finalists presented solutions covering a broad range of topics from a medical device designed to improve accuracy and versatility of oxygen saturation monitoring, customized IV poles to improve safety and convenience for patients, and a portable diagnostics and advisory device for patients.

Amit Mahadik, Director of R&D at Stryker said, “Being part of the Healthcare Innovation Makerthon was an intriguing opportunity. We were impressed by the caliber of the NYU talent who participated in the Makerthon.” Mahadik added, “I was able to see first-hand that rather than use the oft-seen approach of trying to fit a technology into a particular solution, the teams were able to articulate the user needs and were able to identify technology solutions to address those needs. The teams achieved remarkable progress within 48 hours and it was very hard for us as judges to select only four winners from this talented pool.”

The four winning NYU teams are:

  1. Savita – Anti-microbial cellphone cases to combat hospital-acquired infections.

  2. Find My Patient – Patient-tracking that works with existing hospital IT infrastructure.

  3. SyncMD – Clinical decision support providing actionable insight for providers.

  4. combINR – Device that facilitates patient/provider communications for Atrial Fibrillation patients.

The winning teams will progress on to phase III of the Healthcare Innovation Makerthon, where they will each receive $2,500 to further develop their concepts, along with mentorship and access to industry experts, to bring their ventures to market.

“We sought to bring together the medical, business, engineering, and design communities from across NYU to leverage their complementary skills to address pressing challenges in healthcare,” said Lindsey Gray, Senior Director at NYU Entrepreneurial Institute. “This weekend was a resounding success in meeting that goal, and it was exciting to watch NYU really come together and form cross-disciplinary teams to develop meaningful solutions to the problems in healthcare.”

“The NYU Healthcare Innovation Makerthon really exceeded our expectations. The quality and freshness of the ideas were incredible and the passion that NYU teams displayed at the Makerthon was exciting to watch,” said Julio Corredor, Director of Worldwide Innovation at Pfizer. “It was great to see that the participants could visualize how these ideas can make a difference for a lot of the patients we are trying to help. I thank NYU for giving Pfizer the opportunity to collaborate to bring this event together. We are looking forward to seeing these ideas make it to the market.”

Snapshot of the Makerthon weekend: 10 healthcare challenges, 100+ attendees, 27 mentors, 15+ volunteers, 48 hours of creation, 16 pitch presentations, 6 judges, 4 winners, $10,000 in cash prizes.

About the NYU Healthcare Innovation Makerthon:

The Healthcare Innovation Makerthon is a new initiative by the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute and the NYU School of Medicine to bring together the diverse talent and expertise from around the University to identify and develop solutions to the key challenges facing our healthcare system today. The Makerthon has three phases: Problem Identification, Solution Building and Venture Support. The two-day mega weekend event marked the conclusion of Phase II and start of Phase III. Read more here.