As part of the Technical Entrepreneurship and Management program, we complete a course entitled TEM 440: Screening Technologies, taught by Mark Wilson. It focuses on the assessment of whether or not technologies have desirable commercial attributes and should be taken to market. First, we look at all of the technologies that are patented (provisional, pending, or issued) and held through UR Ventures, the University’s office of technology transfer. We then narrow over 400 technologies down to two ideas that we wish to “thicken” and determine whether or not they are worthy of continuing with business and product development.
As part of this course, we are required to attend High Tech Rochester’s Pre-Seed Workshop. This workshop is a two and a half day event that is similarly structured to the TEM 440 course, but moves at a much faster pace. Participants work in teams to heavily research and develop the business potential of a technological idea, which is provided by an idea champion. This year, 13 teams participated in the event. Each team consists of the idea champion, subject matter experts, coaches, contributing observers, and university students. There were also some patent attorneys at the workshop to help with legal advice. The TEAM students participate by conducting market research and are there to learn firsthand what it is like to begin a start-up.
I was lucky to have a Pre-Seed Workshop experience that was unique from the other TEAM students’ experience. Before the workshop, when High Tech Rochester was accepting applications for idea champions, Professor Wilson encouraged us to apply. I was eager to hear about this opportunity as I have been working on a project that I felt could go through this process.
Hemo-Box is a product that my senior design team and I developed last year during the University of Rochester’s Biomedical Engineering Senior Design program. The Hemo-Box is a blood transport cooler for hospitals and blood banks that need to safely transport, store, and monitor the temperature of blood. Each year over $10 million of blood products are wasted due to insufficient temperature regulation. This waste puts further strain on an already depleted supply of donor blood. Many hospitals have found picnic coolers to be the most effective tool for keeping blood units cold while patients await transfusions; however, these can be unreliable and unsafe for the blood. Hemo-Box provides more reliable cooling and the ability to monitor and log the temperature to alert hospital staff when corrective action is needed.
Going through the workshop as an idea champion was a lot of work and was tiring; however, it was definitely a worthwhile experience. I would have to say that the best part of this experience was receiving feedback from professionals in the manufacturing and marketing worlds. Since this device started as a senior design project, most of my resources have been from the University and as a result, I was lacking the knowledge of how this device could realistically hold up in the market and how it could effectively be manufactured. I feel that coming out of the workshop, I have learned that while there are still some flaws with the business development of this device, it is definitely worth taking it to the next step.
– Courtney Astemborski ’15 (MS)