Pitt Innovation Challenge Awards $450K to Fund Bold Ideas in Health Care

September 28, 2016

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 28, 2016 – A total of $450,000 in funding grants were awarded to innovative projects that address problems in health care at the Pitt Innovation Challenge (PInCh®) finals event. Three projects took home $100,000 each in funding, and six others received $25,000 in an evening featuring live presentations and posters at the University Club in Oakland.

The challenge, which is in its third year, was sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the Office of the Provost, and the Innovation Institute. The central question this year’s contestants were asked to submit proposals on was, “What is your bold solution to a vital health problem?” After two rounds of pre-selection, 14 teams were invited to compete at the final pitch event, with six teams in the $100,000 category and eight teams in the $25,000 category.

“This year’s PInCh final showcased extremely innovative ideas that tackled key problems in health care,” said CTSI director Steven Reis, M.D., who also is associate vice chancellor for clinical research, health sciences, and a professor of medicine at Pitt’s School of Medicine. “With over $2.5 million in post-award investment from external sources, PInCh is proving that catalyzing bold ideas can truly make a difference in the way we experience healthcare.”

$100,000 awards:

  • Neurogel: An injectable solution containing a regenerative matrix that promotes healing of damaged nerve tissue.
  • Esophagel: A minimally invasive treatment for Barrett’s Esophagus, a condition which, if left untreated, can lead to esophageal cancer.
  • CardioTrak: A novel peptide that can deliver radioisotopes specifically to heart muscle, thus reducing the amount of radiation absorbed by the body during cardiac stress tests.

$25,000 awards:

  • Aeronics Inc.: A portable device that uses novel porous materials to store medical oxygen at low pressure in a standard 12-ounce aluminum can.
  • Emotion Prosthetics: A wearable device called Purrr that intuitively detects stress and noninvasively counters it through stimulating cranial nerves.
  • EyeCures: A new generation of eye drops using antibody technology to allow current advanced biological drugs to act on the surface of the eye.
  • I-HITS: An individualized hand motion tracking system that allows stroke patients and therapists to monitor and improve rehabilitation.
  • VasoMag: A novel engineered biodegradable metallic vascular stent technology.
  • Ventriculo-Amniotic Shunt for Fetal Aqueductal Stenosis (VASFAS): A device to drain excess fluid from the fetal brain and prevent progressive brain injury during pregnancy.

Finalist and semi-finalist videos can be viewed on the PInCH website.

Gloria Kreps
Vice President