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Hackathon for medical innovation

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

The  annual event, Medical Device Innovation Camp (MEDIC), an initiative by Biomedical Engineering and Technology incubation Centre (BETiC), at IIT Bombay, began last week. This year, MEDIC has brought together 60 participants from across India including doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs, managers and teachers to brainstorm and develop novel solutions for 15 unmet clinical needs curated from different hospitals.

Between Friday, September 28 and today, October 2, participants have been forming inter-disciplinary teams, brainstorming,  developing proof-of-concept, and demonstrating to a panel of senior doctors as jury.

Padma Vibhushan Dr Anil Kakodkar, scientist and former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of India said in his inaugural address, “Individual research  alone rarely nurtures an innovation environment. However, the MEDIC formula of group research is extremely important. It is only through this that you can translate fundamental research into application domain.”

Filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra said: “There are times when the individual’s energy can get eroded. However, we must make sure that the energy of a system such as this, to foster innovation to solve problems, never gets eroded.”

Prof. B. Ravi, Head of BETiC, IIT Bombay, the architect of MEDIC added, “Participants of the Medical Device Innovation Camp start off with four uncertainties—they do not know the place, do not know the problem, do not know who they will work with, and do not know the tools they will use. Yet over the next four days and nights, it all magically comes together, and they will present brilliant proof-of-concepts for unmet clinical needs. Winners of past camps have gone on to fully develop their ideas into medical products, file patents and license the technology to their own startup companies or to the industry.” Winners of past MEDICs have developed inventions such as the Ayulink smart stethoscope (to record and send heart and lung sounds of rural patients to urban doctors for correct diagnosis), diabetic foot scanner (to prevent long-term ulceration and amputation), hybrid plaster splint (to immobilise fractured bones to prevent further damage during transport) and patient-specific anatomical models as well as surgical jigs (for better planning and execution of surgeries). Sixteen such innovations are chronicled in Prof B Ravi’s book Essence of Medical Device Innovation, which was applauded by PM Narendra Modi during his visit to IIT Bombay last month.

The second edition of this book, was inaugurated at MEDIC by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra.

Prof. A.K. Suresh (Deputy Director of IIT-B) said, “An innovative approach to device development is absolutely of essence, and the ability to do this on scale, so that the fruits can be reaped by a large section of society in quick time is equally important.”

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