Wear IT Together captures TechCelerator Award
UNIVERSITY PARK – Becoming an entrepreneur is not easy. The TechCelerator Incubator Program at Penn State’s Innovation Park aims to make becoming an entrepreneur a little less complicated.
On Dec. 5, several area entrepreneurs were given a chance to make a final pitch to a panel of local experts who had the challenge of choosing a winner. The winning entrepreneur would take home a $10,000 check from the TechCelerator Incubator Program.
When it was all said and done, the winner was a group of men from Wear IT Together, a biometric monitor focused on aiding addicts. The group was led by Jamie Mundie, Dr. Zita Oravecz and Dr. Tim Brick.
The decision wasn’t an easy one, according to Bob Dornich, the Director of the TechCelerator.
“Our cohort amazed us all this fall with their expert assessments of market demand and their ability to pivot so that their products and services aligned with their customer’s needs,” Dornich said.
The Wear IT Together technology will a void in the current market, according to Mundie.
“Wear IT is a product that helps people manage their addiction – opioid addiction, alcoholism – and it works with a wearable sensor, like an Apple watch for a FitBit and it’s designed to detect signs of anxiety, stress and cravings,” Mundie said. “Once it detects cravings, it can develop an intervention to the user, like a breathing exercise to get their mind away from their addiction.”
But Wear IT Together does more than just help the user manage their addiction.
“We can collect other data, we can issue surveys or we can have the patient enter their thoughts. The whole idea is to help the patient better articulate their disorder to their counselor. They can use data to do it instead of using their memory,” Mundie said.
The Wear IT together monitor uses a myriad of factors to determine if a person is struggling with their addiction.
“Heart rate is one of the factors, skin conductivity – the amount of electricity in the skin – is another one and skin temperature is yet another one,” Mundie noted.
Wear IT Together beat out four strong teams which were competing in the current class.
The other four teams were:
- Bold Foods – Bold Foods was certainly one of the most interesting products in the class. It was a cricket protein powder designed to be eaten. The group from Bold Foods was led by Weslie Khoo, who explained that insects, which are eaten by 80 percent of the world’s population, are an extremely nutrient-dense source of protein, which has been largely untapped by Western markets – until now. Crickets are 65 percent protein by weight and higher in protein than beef jerky (33 percent), Khoo explained.
- OsteoSynth – OsteoSynth is a bone matrix substrate focused solely on the dental implant market. The substrate would come in a syringe-like device and be used to fill the void when a tooth is extracted. Matt Henry and Dr. Dan Hayes were the brains behind the product. Henry presented to the panel of judges.
- Balanced Energy – One of the more innovative products featured a photovoltaic smart battery and electronics. Balanced Energy was a group effort of Dr. Hosam Fathy, Chu Xu and Partha Mishra.
- LipiMet – A medical product, LipiMet offers consumers an alternative test of insulin resistance using plasma fatty acids instead of glucose in a simple, clinically friendly way that can predict the development of diabetes. LipiMet was presented by Rachel Walker.
While nothing guarantees success, the National Business Incubation Association reports that 4 out of 5 new businesses that start in an incubator program succeed within five years. Without an incubation program, 3 out of the 5 new business start-ups fail within their first five years.
The next step for Wear IT Together will come in the spring, according to Mundie.
“We’re working with a rehab facility to do a pilot study in the spring (of 2018). Once we do that, we want to start rolling out the product to other rehab facilities … probably 20 to 40 at a time and just move forward from there,” he said.
The $10,000 from TechCelerator will help advance Wear IT Together immensely, Mundie said.
“That’s going to help us with the study with the rehab center that we’re partnering with,” he said. “(This project) was important to me because this one of the toughest battles that people are going to fight in their lives. It should be treated as a disease. People need to learn how to thrive in their recovery from addiction, not just survive.”