The Cat’s Out of the Bag

by Humera Fasihuddin

Update 7pm 6/19: And the standings have been announced! See below for each team’s placement and prize.

 1st place students get $10,000 in prize money and their Departments get to house the coveted trophy, sometimes referred to as the 'Stanley Cup of Biomedical Engineering'.

1st place students get $10,000 in prize money and their Departments get to house the coveted trophy, sometimes referred to as the ‘Stanley Cup of Biomedical Engineering’.

Today, I have the great honor of awarding a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winner for the ninth year of the BMEidea Awards.

The top three represent the finest in student innovations addressing real clinical challenges in the health sector with creatively-designed biomedical solutions. Read on to find out who ranked 1st, 2nd or 3rd, just announced this afternoon at the prestigious industry trade show and conference, Medical Device and Manufacturing East (MD&M East), at the Medical Design Excellence Awards (MDEA) Ceremony.

~ Humera Fasihuddin, Manager of Student Programming, T: @ihumera

EchoSure, 1st Place, $10,000 Price


The team members:
Devin Coon, 30, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Adam Lightman, 26, from Memphis, Tennessee
David Narrow, 22, from Baltimore, Maryland

Johns Hopkins University

The device:
A simple system that, for the first time, enables nurses to perform routine monitoring of patients’ vascular health at the bedside. Find out more…

AWAIR, 2nd Place, $5,000 Prize

The team members:
Rush Bartlett II, PhD, MBA, age 26, from Tulsa, Oklahoma and Austin, Texas
Ryan Van Wert, MD, age 33, from Toronto, Canada

Stanford University

The device:
AWAIR created the Wyshbone drug delivery catheter, which continuously applies topical anesthetic to the throat to reduce endotracheal tube discomfort. Find out more…

Gala Pump by DS Labs, 3rd Place, $2,500

The team members:
Susan Thompson, age 28, from Baltimore, Maryland
Adriana Blazeski, age 26, from Ann Arbor, Michigan

Johns Hopkins University

The device:
A hands-free, concealable, and quiet breast pump that women can use discreetly in the presence of others. Find out more…

List of Seed Funding Sources For Student Ventures

by Humera Fasihuddin

Finding seed funding for your venture while you’re going to school can be a tricky thing. There are sources of funding out there, you just need to do a bit of ‘hustling’ to get it.

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Here’s a list of EARLY STAGE funding resources, including grants, business plan competitions, sources of loans and equity investors. By no means is it comprehensive, nor does it include an exhaustive list of seed funds available at campuses like your own (talk to your Dean and/or Tech Transfer Office to find out what’s available). If you know of another resources, even if its specific to your state or campus, let us know… submit your suggested additions in the comments section below. Also, if you’re a student whose had some personal experience raising funding from any of these sources, post your experience here so we can learn how you made out.

~ Humera Fasihuddin, Manager of Student Programming, T: @ihumera

Seed Funding For Student Ventures


1) NO BETTER SOURCE of funding than customer revenue. Advance orders are helpful. Letters of commitment are also very helpful towards securing the interest of the funding sources below. Take Steve Blank’s free course on for an effective means to find/validate a business model for your venture opportunity.


These often require a bit of travel, but the networking and connections that come from pitching and presenting are invaluable. Take Ecovative Design, the organic styrofoam replacement company out of RPI, as an example. They raised over a million dollars in business plan competition dollars that helped fund their first employees and the build out of a small manufacturing floor. This early money was essential to getting off the ground, refining their business model and making global connections that dramatically improved their valuation before they finally received strategic investment from 3M and packaging giant Sealed Air. But, proceed with caution and make sure you’re onto something amazing because doing the business plan circuit can be a big time drain. Here’s a bunch that we trust…

1) Dell Social Innovation

2) Intel Innovators Challenge

3) Rice Business Plan Competition

4) MassChallenge

5) Berkeley and Columbia University Global Social Venture Challenge

6) Tufts Business Plan Competition

7) MIT 100K Competition

8) Green PICNIC Challenge (Europe)

9) ASME i-Show

10) Queen’s Entrepreneurs’ Competition (Canada)

11) Harvard Social Enterprise Conference Pitch Contest

12) Campus only competitions:

Here’s another site for business plan competitions:


If you’ve got a solid innovation and meet the threshold set forth by this bunch (each has their own funding criteria), grant funding is a ‘no strings’ or ‘not very many strings’ attached source of funding. These grantors will want assurances along the way that you follow through on what you said in the proposal, but generally this source of funding will leave your equity in tact.

1) NCIIA (combination grant and venture accelerator with possibility of follow-on investment from for-profit subsidiary, VentureWell)

2) Federal Government’s SBIR/STTR Phase I program (

3) Individual States…

  1. NY: Environmental Investment Programs and Innovate NY Fund
  2. Georgia: Here’s a list of Georgia Tech and Greater Atlanta Funding Sources, courtesy of Shawna Hagen.
  3. Who else? Add your state to this list by writing to us in the comments field below.

5) Theil Foundation (20 Under 20 Fellowship)

6) Individual Campuses…

  1. UCLA: The Moxie Center offers small change for prototyping of undergraduate innovations
  2. Arizona State: Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative and Venture Catalyst
  3. Georgia Tech: Here’s a list of Georgia Tech and Greater Atlanta Funding Sources, courtesy of Shawna Hagen.
  4. Who else? Add your campus to this list by writing to us in the comments field below.


A newcomer to the scene of early-stage funding, crowdsourcing is a highly effective way to raise seed funding on the merit of your idea from people that care about you (often referred to in the world of early-stage finance as ‘Friends, Family and Fools’) and those who could benefit from your product/service being available in the marketplace. Many strong concept-level ventures have gotten raised well over their target using this means.

1) Kickstarter

2) IndieGogo


This new funding model emerged in the last year. Venture Capital firm, First Round Capital, is partnering with student organizations to enable students to vet their peer’s ideas and the team’s credentials. We’re not very familiar with the exact mechanisms of application and financing, but if you are… shoot us a message and we’ll update this post.

1) Dorm Room Fund


1) Kiva (developing world)

2) Accion (microfinance for developing world,

3) Accion U.S. (microfinance for U.S.,

4) US Small Business Loan Program (SBA)


1) Y-Combinator (web 2.0)

2) TechStars (web 2.0)

3) Bolt (hardware)

4) Unreasonable Institute (social)

5) Ashoka Fellows Program (developing world)

6) Empower Program for Social Entrepreneurship at Tufts (developing world)

7) Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT (developing world)

8) Echoing Green (developing world)

Know a source of funds that college students should know about? Post it in the comments field below.

I-Start Makes Launching a Competition a Breeze

Student Ambassadors and University leaders take note, the Kauffman Foundation has made it a whole lot easier to get up and running with your own campus competition!

I-Start is an online tool that allows anyone to set up and manage a business plan, business model or design competition. The Kauffman Foundation acquired the platform in 2009 from then Harvard student and now Director, Katie Peterson. You can be up and running in under 40 minutes with a simple competition, says Peterson in a YouTube video that describes a range of flexibility. Program Managers are offered a site with their own brand and domain name. A well-designed graphical user interface allows managers to set entry criteria, types of responses accepted and required elements. Users invite their own judges and manage the review processes.


On the flip side, if you’re a student startup thinking about doing the competition circuit, i-Start makes it vastly easier to search and apply for the range of different competitions for which you may be eligible. To date, close to 9,500 companies have applied to over 200 competitions. To learn more, check out the organization’s video about i-Start…


~ Humera Fasihuddin, Manager of Student Programming, T: @ihumera