A streamlined mental health platform to support students and a revolutionary approach to heart valve transplants have won two teams of students funding in the inaugural Innovation Week Student Challenge.
The 'Nouveau Valve' developed by biomedical engineering and commerce student Ben Ferguson and fellow biomedical engineering students Benjamin Lindsay, Sheikh Rakib and Kevin Wong, uses stem cells and high-tech ‘scaffolding’ to effectively regenerate heart valves with tissue. It would eliminate the need for invasive artificial prosthetics or non-permanent transplants from pigs, which are the only current options for patients.
The valve is bioresorbable - it can grow and remodel itself and be absorbed into the body. This means it could be used for young babies with valve birth defects as well as older patients. The ‘Tissue Mk II’ group’s vision is to save and prolong lives and to make Australia the world leader of the tissue engineering industry.
As the winners of the MVP prize for best start-up business pitch, the team won $10,000 in grant funding, mentoring and services from INCUBATE, the University’s start-up accelerator and entrepreneur program.
‘One-Click Support’ uses a university’s special considerations system as a platform to connect students to the right services. After completing their special consideration application for serious illness or injury, the student is directed to an anonymous questionnaire to assess their mental wellbeing, before connecting them with appropriate healthcare services.
The One-Click Support team, Aran Kanagaratnam and Akhil Bansal, are both in their third year of studying a combined Bachelor of Science (Advanced) and Doctor of Medicine. Their research proposal was awarded $5,000 in cash, follow-up support and industry advice from INCUBATE, academic mentors and the University’s Commercial Development and Industry Partnerships Hub.
Aran and Akhil are in discussions with the University of Sydney and hope their model could be used at other universities around Australia for the benefit of both staff and students.
For her compelling pitch on an app that can gamify ‘active sitting’ at work, Queenie Ling, was presented with a mentoring award provided by Jo Burston, CEO of Inspiring Rare Birds. Queenie is completing a Master of Interaction Design and Electronic Arts in the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning.
Uprise, a start-up that offers mental health programs in the workplace, awarded an internship to Delfina Mattern, a Master of Management student in the Business School.
The prize was awarded on the basis of her background in management, combined with her demonstrated commitment to social change, including experience working with Syrian refugees in Germany.
The event was attended by NSW Department of Industry Secretary Simon Smith and the Hon. Paul Fletcher, Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure, both of whom acknowledged the ideal environment the University provides for cultivating the ideas and skills needed to become an entrepreneur.