For the third year in a row, Stevens Institute of Technology brought innovative students and professionals from leading health care organizations together for the university’s HealthTech Hackathon.
Organizers said the latest edition of this annual event was the most successful yet, with 48 students forming 11 teams to brainstorm cutting-edge solutions to important issues in healthcare. They were mentored at the weekend-long event in November by close to 40 healthcare professionals, technology experts, engineers, scientists and healthcare business leaders and other professionals.
Stevens’ HealthTech Hackathon continues to attract growing interest from the healthcare technology industry, the organizers said. The mentors who signed on to work with the participants and the volunteer judges came from such healthcare and technology heavyweights as Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, Quest Diagnostics and CentralReach. Bristol-Myers Squibb, a platinum-level sponsor of the event, sent executives from Europe to attend.
“This year we had the highest number of applications and the largest cohort of mentors and volunteers support the event,” said Premal Kamdar ’13 Bioengineering, a co-founder of the hackathon. “The quality and diversity of the applicant pool surpassed our expectations. We are very pleased that the event is earning recognition as an important showcase for Stevens, establishing the university as a leading innovator in digital healthcare.”
Participants in the Hackathon, representing more than two dozen universities and healthcare institutions, were challenged to employ technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, chatbots, voice assistants, blockchain and wearables to solve critical challenges and improve the patient experience.
Valuable Exposure to Industry Leaders
Besides a chance to earn prize money, participants received invaluable exposure to experts and professionals who could help them build on their ideas and create viable businesses.
Throughout the weekend, the teams worked feverishly to develop ideas and build prototype apps. They also attended discussions and workshops intended to help them hone their ideas and presentations. The hackathon culminated in a pitch competition, with $10,000 in total prizes awarded to the top three teams after intense questions from the judges.
The winning team, R3, took home the top prize of $5,000 for its mobile platform, which makes it easier for melanoma survivors to keep in contact with their care providers and maintain their medical regimens. The team consisted of Stevens students Ryan O’Shea, Manish Balakrishnan, Bradley Clemente, Sal DiMaggio and Russell Whitsitt.
The other prize-winners included Team Angel, which earned $3,000 for an at-home patient follow-up system that uses Amazon’s Alexa personal assistant; and Team Rejoint, which won $2,000 for an app aimed at assisting rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. Team Angel consisted of students from the City University of New York’s Macaulay Honors College. Team Rejoint’s members were primarily Stevens students.
The event also included two keynote addresses, one by Silvia Garcia Codony, an entrepreneurial leader in life sciences with experience in medical devices, drug development, and digital health, and the other by George Serafin, who has served in various senior leadership positions within life sciences and healthcare across industry, technology and management consulting. Both are entrepreneurs-in-residence at the Stevens Venture Center, the university’s tech incubator.
Premal Kamdar, a healthcare entrepreneur, was part of a team of organizers that included his brother Vishal, a former investment banker; David Zimmerman, Stevens’ Director of Technology Commercialization; Dr. Raul Perez-Olle, Vice President of Medical Affairs at MacroGenics, Inc.; and Stevens students Hayden Daly ’21, Mark Freeman ’20; Frank Pinnola ’22 and Justin Trugman ’20.
Eight organizations lent their financial support to the hackathon as sponsors: Bristol-Myers Squibb, Quest Diagnostics, Greenberg Traurig, the New Jersey Health Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, Biodemak, Lowenstein Sandler and CentralReach.