Anemia Testing Technology Wins Ideas to SERVE Competition
Anemo Check's technology to improve the accuracy and affordability of testing for anemia around the world won first place in the 2013 Ideas to SERVE (I2S) Competition at Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business.
Open to all Georgia Tech students and recent alumni, the I2S competition involves innovative business concepts that could help improve society or preserve the environment. The finals were held on April 10 following a poster showcase on April 5.
Erika Tyburski, who earned her BS at in biomedical engineering in 2012, leads Anemo Check. "I myself have mild anemia, so it made perfect sense for me to work on solving this problem," she says. "Thirty percent of the world will experience anemia at some point this year and most of the time anemia is completely curable if diagnosed in time."
Anemia, a condition marked by a deficiency of hemoglobin in the blood, can be caused by poor nutrition, malaria, pregnancy, blood loss, or sickle cell disease, resulting in such symptoms as fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, fever, brain damage, and death. Treatments for anemia include better nutrition, hydration, and iron supplementation.
Current diagnostic tests for the disorder are often inaccurate, says Tyburski, who began working on this technology through a senior industrial design project. "But with just one drop of blood, Anemo Check can provide clear reliable results for less than 25 cents per test. It is safe, simple and accurate anemia screening."
How It Works
Anemo Check's patent-pending technology involves adding a drop of blood to a chemical in a small tube. The color the mixture turns correlates to the hemoglobin level in the individual, indicating states of anemia, if present.
Tyburski, who expects the FDA approval process to take less than two years, plans to focus first on generating profits in the United States. Then Anemo Check would use some of that revenue to make this testing affordably accessible in developing countries.
As winner of I2S, Anemo Check won $7,500 (following a second place finish in Georgia Tech's InVenture Competition earlier this year). Anemo Check also won the Best Global Solution ($2,500) in I2S.
Organized by Georgia Tech's Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship, I2S is a primarily a competition of ideas where creativity, imagination, and technology are applied to solving social and environmental problems. While many participants go on to other careers, some continue to pursue bringing their concepts to reality after graduation, as Tyburski is doing.
“We hope that eventually these ideas will lead to sustainable organizations that are able to generate sufficient income flows to sustain their missions,” says Professor Terry Blum, director of ILE. “If the organizations are for-profit companies, the ideas should eventually be capable of providing returns for investors as well.”
FloMera won second place in I2S ($3,500) for an in-home breast cancer test that requires only a single drop of blood. This team includes mechanical engineering PhD student Billy Wang, MBA students Jimmy He and Jessica Walling, and Emory law student Ernesto Escobar.
The FloMera team, which also won the People's Choice Award ($250), is part of the Technological Innovation: Generating Economic Results (TI:GER program), a collaboration between Georgia Tech and Emory Law School that brings together PhD, MBA, and law students to work on commercializing early-stage technologies.
Blue Sky won Hub Atlanta's $3,500 service package for Most Ready for Market. The team is working on affordable, effective air filtration masks for use in developing countries with heavy pollution, such as China. The team, which aims to add fashion flair to protective face masks, includes 2012 Executive MBA in Global Business graduates Clint Olearnick, Drew Mathias, and Clifton Peay.
The Pentorship Program (MBA student Kristen Daniel) won the Best Domestic Solution for a U.S. Problem ($2,500) for a program to reduce the rate of recidivism by providing business planning assistance, entrepreneurship courses, digital literacy and technology education to prison inmates.
Twenty-nine teams from multiple Colleges at Tech competed in the preliminary round (up from 18 last year), before getting narrowed down to five for the finals. More than 35 judges were involved in the competition, including social entrepreneurs and environmental sustainability researchers and advocates.
In all, I2S awarded $20,000 in cash prizes as well as service packages provided by in-kind sponsors.
A series of workshops leading up to the competition helped students prepare, and they received guidance from business-community mentors.
Sponsors of the 2013 competition included The Hal and John Smith Family Foundation, Hub Atlanta, Gray Ghost Ventures, Atlanta Tech Village, AARP Foundation, MaRC Sustainable Design & Manufacturing, Scheller College of Business, and the Tedd Munchak Chair in Entrepreneurship.