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NJIT students win seed capital and expert guidance to launch business ventures

Thanks to a unique Capital One and NJIT competition, four teams of Albert Dorman Honors College (ADHC) undergrads probably can't wait until next June when they'll move into their new roles as entrepreneurs with seed funding. Known as the annual Capital One Bank Newark Innovation Acceleration Challenge (NIAC), the competition held at the end of last year also bestowed laurels on two adult teams from the community--Dean and Cheryl Allen-Munley, of Tewksbury, both NJIT alums, and Caron White, of Newark. All winning combinations will receive not only $3,000 in seed capital, but also mentorship from Capital One Bank's Small Business Banking team. Sterling Medical Devices was also a program sponsor.

The competition was steep. Of the 37 team applicants, 14 made the final round to pitch their business plans to judges and then from that group, six winners were chosen. Judges included Capital One Bank's Small Business Banking team, NJIT faculty and others. "We were so proud of our NJIT students, who were especially well-prepared," said event organizer, NJIT Associate Professor Michael Ehrlich. "Probably what helped them the most was their participation in the unique ADHC mentoring program, known as the Interdisciplinary Design Studio (IDS)."

The five-year-old IDS program is the brainchild of ADHC Interim Dean and Distinguished Professor Atam Dhawan, a noted medical device inventor. "The IDS program allows students to learn a roadmap of innovation, research and entrepreneurship towards developing a vision and necessary skills for bringing new technologies in the market taking a leadership role to impact the regional as well as national economy."

This coming summer all winners, including the two community teams, will develop their business concepts through a fellowship at the Capital One Bank Learning Lab at NJIT's Enterprise Development Center, a technology and life sciences start-up incubator that has graduated over 85 successful businesses.

The NJIT/Capital One Bank collaboration aims to ignite business development in Newark by empowering budding entrepreneurs. The initiative is an extension of Capital One Bank's efforts to invest in economic opportunities for local individuals, families and businesses throughout New Jersey. More follows about the ADHC undergrads.

A team of IDS Honors College sophomores, who are developing a "painless needle" were among the four NJIT winning teams. The young inventors say that over 80 percent of parents would pay for a solution to eliminate the pain of needles when their children get shots or blood tests. With their simple inexpensive device that numbs the skin almost instantly at the point of injection, this company says it is poised to solve a major problem without significant changes to any medical procedures. Team members are biology major Isaac Daudelin, of Independence; mechanical engineering major Brian Taylor and biology major Jeremy Jen, both of Bloomfield; and electrical engineering major William Heberling, of Caldwell.

Safer Surgery Solutions was solely developed by ADHC junior Margaret Christian, of Lake Hopatcong, who one day hopes to become a physician. Christian may certainly have a foot in the door with her invention she calls Safer Surgery Solutions. She says that 95,000 Americans annually undergo cardiothoracic surgery to repair heart valves. This solution highlights a new surgical instrument to reduce operating time from 60 to 40 minutes, while saving $122 per minute of operating room costs, reducing complications, increasing surgical precision and simplifying a common procedure. Instead of making many stitches, the patent-pending device makes multiple simultaneous stitches.

"AutisMind" developed by a team of ADHC juniors wowed the judges. The students behind this invention say that out of 150 million children in the US and 67 million globally have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The team has developed an autodidactic device to assist in the treatment of ASD. Using RFID tags and near field communications, the "Textured Original Invention" (pronounced "toy") can be customized for each patient at a low cost, with an automated feed -back loop, to report back to a medical therapist to maintain progress. Team members are Amira Esseghir, of Princeton, a biology major and chemistry minor enrolled in the accelerated dentistry program; Mariam Selevany, Totowa, a junior majoring in math and biology; junior Kamran Asif, of Old Bridge, a computer science and mathematics major and Livia Kuruvila, of Elmsford NY, a junior, biomedical engineering major.

"Swim Safe," the invention of NJIT sophomores Ellika Salari, of Livingston; John Stefan, of North Brunswick; and Joseph Holzapfel, of Fort Lee, was designed to stop drowning deaths of young children. According to research, say the researchers, 19 percent of all drowning deaths involve children and occur with a lifeguard present. Even successful saves can leave children with brain damage, if they were underwater too long. This team developed a wristband to detect when a swimmer is in trouble and alert the lifeguard via a smart device (tablet or smartphone) with directions on the swimmer's location to speed rescue.


Contact: Sheryl Weinstein
New Jersey Institute of Technology

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