With ideas ranging from grocery stores that cater to social service support programs to mobile apps that monitor sun exposure, college students from across Florida pitched why their inventions deserved $10,000 Monday at the USF Heatlh Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute.
The winning check was presented to two University of Central Florida students, Nicole Enterlein and Taylor Cheeley, for their female urinary device.
Smartway, a disposable funnel that allows women to urinate while standing, will help to avoid harmful parasites by minimizing contact with contaminated lavatory surfaces, Enterlein said.
While the product will now be marketable for routine use, Enterlein said the idea originated as a solution to female fatalities in the military.
“Kidney infections were actually causing deaths,” she said. “We wanted to find a way to fix this in the medical environment, and potentially take it to the consumer market of everyday America.”
Cheeley added Smartway might have medical applications for pregnant, injured or physically disabled women.
Though they’ve secured national distributorship with CVS and Walgreens, Cheeley said recognition from some of the judges, including USF faculty, business professionals and healthcare executives from Florida Blue, could help their product secure future contracts.
“Winning this competition with half the judging staff from Florida Blue, it’s like getting a seal of approval,” Cheeley said.
The $10,000 will fund production and market research.
Cheeley said they hope to expand their audience, perhaps exploring contracts with FEMA and U.S. military.
Smartway was not the only invention honored by judges.
A University of Florida student received $5,000 for a cardiovascular device that monitors the parameters for heart failure during ambulance transit.
Simon Bello, a USF graduate student majoring in electrical engineering, won $2,500 for his development of an ocular device intended to monitor glaucoma.
The device would manage glaucoma by controlling a pump within the eye that could inject or retract fluid to normalize pressure.
While the panel awarded only three presentations, Center for Entrepreneurship director Dr. Michael Fountain said all 12 were selected out of a larger pool for their excellence.
“The judges were looking for products that were innovative, that had a strong impact on healthcare and could be commercialized,” he said. “It was really difficult.”
Other inventions ranged from ultraviolet fiber optic root canals to solar surgical instrument sterilizers.
Fountain said he hoped even more ideas will be evaluated next year.