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YOUNG HEALTH INNOVATORS FORUM 2017 Gathers Innovative Healthcare Ideas

“Our minds are challenged yet inspired. We learned so much from the amazing young people this afternoon! I’d like to use that quote from Dr. Gross, a Nobel Laureate: ‘The more we know, the more we are aware of what we know not,’” said Olivia Ho Cheng, board member of U.S.-China Health Summit and one of the judges of the Young Health Innovators Forum (YHIF) 2017.

On August 5, YHIF held its 2017 Boston competition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Twelve teams selected from 62 applicants pitched their projects to a panel of judges and the audience. Nonspec, MobioSense, Z Imaging and XenoTherapeutics were selected as the four finalists. They will join the other four China finalist teams to compete at the 7th U.S.-China Health Summit in Beijing in September.

YHIF is a part of the annual U.S.-China Health Summit, a platform dedicated to promoting the exchange of knowledge, ideas, and experiences of healthcare leaders from the U.S., China, and other countries. Dr. Jing Ma, President of U.S.-China Health Summit, introduced in her opening remarks that since the first Summit was inaugurated in Boston in 2011, it has been a great platform for the advancement of global health.

“Although the Summit has been a great success by attracting senior scholars and leaders, we need more young people to join this platform, not just as audience but as participants and contributors,” Dr. Ma added. Therefore, the Summit initiated YHIF, which provides a wide network to encourage and assist young entrepreneurs and professionals to develop innovative solutions for unmet needs in the global healthcare ecosystem.

YHIF Judges are asking questions to startup teams

The 12 presenting teams this year were selected as semi-finalists from 62 applicants, who come from not only across the U.S. but also Europe and Mexico, representing a diversity of color and backgrounds. After whole afternoon’s presentations, four finalist teams were selected. Their products spanned digital health, pharmacy, biotech, healthcare AI and other healthcare-related subjects, applying latest technologies to improve people’s lives.

Nonspec, the first finalist team, develops a core pylon system and uses it to produce low-cost and mass producible prosthetic limb kits, which can be adjusted to fit any amputees. There are an estimated 54 million amputees worldwide, and the majority of them don’t have access to specialists.

Nonspec is accepting the Finalist Award

“Everybody needs to walk; it took us time to realize that when we were looking for our value. We want to help amputees find jobs and live normal lives as everyone else,” Dr. Erin Keaney, co-founder and COO of Nonspec, said. Nonspec is anticipating high volume manufacturing in 2018 and 16% profit margin within 5 years.

Other teams also demonstrated how latest technologies can improve the quality of healthcare services if appropriately applied. During surgical procedures, traditional 2D image guides on monitors often tear a surgeon's attention away from the patient. Z Imaging applies augmented reality technologies to enable surgeons to virtually see inside of their patients, making image-guided surgeries dramatically faster and safer.

Z Imaging is pitching their ideas

Meanwhile, the current Troponin test for heart attack is held back by low sensitivity and lack of portability, so MobioSense created HERO, a heart attack prevention device that tests three heart attack-related markers, returning results in just 10 minutes while remaining 70% cheaper than the current test.

MobioSense is pitching their ideas

Another finalist, XenoTherapeutics, uses skins harvested from generic-modified swine to create groundbreaking “biological band aids” for patients with severe burns. Unlike other semi-finalists, XenoTherapeutics is a nonprofit organization. Mr. Laurence Zhu, XenoTherapeutics' Director of Grants, said there’s an urgent need to solve the burn problem, even though burn management is not very profitable right now.

XenoTherapeutics is accepting the Finalist Award

“We are more interested in advancing technologies than making profits,” said Mr. Zhu. “In fact, several public funds and government agencies have shared our vision and provided us financial support to address that urgent need.”

Apart from the four finalists, YHIF also bestows the People’s Choice Award, with the recipient selected by audience vote. This year’s award was won by NeuroLex Laboratories, a software startup company that analyzes patient voice recordings in order to better detect and treat psychiatric disorders.

NeuroLex Laboratories is accepting the People’s Choice Award

The judge panel evaluated each startup according to team structure, market potential, technology and social impact. Although there were only four winners, all 12 teams were outstanding, according to Ms. Cheng. She said at the post-competition award ceremony that it was hard for her and the other judges to reach a decision, and she hoped that young innovators could use YHIF as a platform as an exercise to advance their potential in healthcare, to continue their strides in development and to make differences to benefit millions in global health.

Alexander Greene, another judge and cognitive software developer of IBM Watson Health Imaging, also said he was very impressed by the high quality of this year’s YHIF teams, and IBM Watson was happy to work with those young innovators in the future.

The four finalists from the Boston competition are invited to attend the 7th U.S.-China Health Summit in Beijing on September 23 and 24, when thousands of healthcare leaders from the U.S., China, and other countries will gather together and discuss important challenges and opportunities in healthcare reform and development. The final round of YHIF2017 will also be held at the Summit. Finalists from both the Beijing and the Boston competitions will present their projects to potential investors from China’s huge healthcare market.

All the judges and semi-finalists of YHIF2017

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