Startups
Competitions / Events / Health / Health tech / Universities

Penn students compete for best healthtech idea at inaugural M&T Summit

A potential EpiPen competitor won the pitch contest. The Saturday event also featured Houston Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow on how big data is reshaping Major League Baseball.

Jeff Luhnow, general manager of the Houston Astros (and Penn alum), was the M&T Summit's keynote speaker. (Photo by Brian Drew)

Nearly 200 people gathered early Saturday to listen to Houston Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow talk about how big data is changing professional baseball.* Hours later and nearly as many were still there to watch a competition between seniors in the Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Students in the already competitive program already had to spend their senior year developing an engineering project and business plan, but this is the first year the students would be competing for a $2,000 prize as part of the school’s first annual M&T Summit.

All of the semi-finalists had to fit the summit’s theme of healgth. Students pitched apps like Mindful, meant to help college students track and improve their mental health, and Sleepalyzer, which tests drowsiness. Another sleep project was called Sleepal-DX, software its creators want to sell to sleep researchers to test for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

There were hardware projects like Peri, a smart sock to track peripheral edema, Orbis, a smart tracker device meant to help those break their opioid addiction, Foot’s Ease, a smart shoe meant to fix foot drop, and Smart Fiber, a glove meant to help amputees regain sensation that was pitched like an early version of Black Panther’s super suit.

Ultimately, the winner was LifeWatch, a potential challenger to EpiPen that fits the syringe into something the size of a large watch. Their presentation focused around the personal story of Reed Ginsberg, who suffers from a tree nut allergy and always has to carry around epinephrine.

“I wanted to make it smaller,” said Ginsberg, “and didn’t realize I could put it in the watch until we started to brainstorm.”

Reed Ginsberg speaks during the LifeWatch presentation at Penn's first M&T Summit. (Photo by Brian Drew)

Reed Ginsberg speaks during the LifeWatch presentation at Penn’s first M&T Summit. (Photo by Brian Drew)

Their business plan noted the major backlash to the price hike of the EpiPen and the lack of innovation in the space.

The team says they will put the $2,000 prize back into the product, and plan to keep developing it.

The judges didn’t reveal why they made their decisions during the presentation, but Timothy Babich, a 1998 alumnus of the program and founder and CEO of Fortelus Capital Management, said it was impressive that they had a working prototype and had good market analysis.

Foot’s Ease took home second place and $1,500. Sleep-DX won a best presentation award of $500 and Smart Fibers, the only one-person team, won a $500 innovation award.

“I’m just so impressed with the students, the faculty and putting them all together,” said M&T Summit organizer Sangeeta Vohra.

Vohra says the summit will be back next year and will remain a signature part of the program.

*If Luhnow seems out of place as a keynote speaker, he actually fit right in. He also noted he was invited before the Astros won the World Series. Luhnow graduated from the M&T program in 1989, and saw his potential to get into professional baseball after reading Moneyball by Michael Lewis. His presentation focused on how big data is being used not just in recruiting talent in professional baseball but is now being used for health applications.

Luhnow said there are more opportunities for people with technology backgrounds in baseball, but it’s still hard to get in the door. He got started at the St. Louis Cardinals by a connection he made while at McKinsey & Co. But there are other ways of networking.

“Go to the ballpark. Talk to the guy in the stands with the radar gun,” Luhnow said. “Those are the types of relationships that will help you get an entry level position.”

Before you go...

Please consider supporting Technical.ly to keep our independent journalism strong. Unlike most business-focused media outlets, we don’t have a paywall. Instead, we count on your personal and organizational support.

3 ways to support our work:
  • Contribute to the Journalism Fund. Charitable giving ensures our information remains free and accessible for residents to discover workforce programs and entrepreneurship pathways. This includes philanthropic grants and individual tax-deductible donations from readers like you.
  • Use our Preferred Partners. Our directory of vetted providers offers high-quality recommendations for services our readers need, and each referral supports our journalism.
  • Use our services. If you need entrepreneurs and tech leaders to buy your services, are seeking technologists to hire or want more professionals to know about your ecosystem, Technical.ly has the biggest and most engaged audience in the mid-Atlantic. We help companies tell their stories and answer big questions to meet and serve our community.
The journalism fund Preferred partners Our services
Engagement

Join our growing Slack community

Join 5,000 tech professionals and entrepreneurs in our community Slack today!

Trending

Philly-area gold exchange startup reaches $1M in revenue just 10 months after launch

Philly-area social media startup LifeBrand lays off entire staff, as CEO says it's still 'fully operational'

He started at Neya as an intern. 10 years later, he’s director of robotics — and loving life

What Philadelphians need to know about the city’s 7,000-camera surveillance system

Technically Media