By Lauren Goldstein
February 28, 2018
There are a wealth of dynamic and industry-altering technologies emerging from New Mexico State University that are ripe for commercialization. Arrowhead Center’s LAUNCH program identifies and supports teams who can lead the way, to catalyze movement from university research to market and contribute to economic growth in the region.
LAUNCH is a four-month accelerator in which entrepreneurs and businesses work toward licensing NMSU inventions and compete for equity investment opportunities and prizes in a culminating LAUNCH Day event. The program is sponsored by the U.S Economic Development Administration (EDA) University Center for Regional Commercialization and the Hunt Center for Entrepreneurship, and funded by a gift from the Hunt Family Foundation. Mentorship, valuable business expertise, guidance from subject matter experts, and research support are cornerstones of Arrowhead’s longest running, deep-dive accelerator program.
Wei Tang, assistant professor in the Klipsch School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at NMSU, is the principal investigator on a LAUNCH team that is working to commercialize an innovative biosensor technology he developed in the lab. Tang received both a National Science Foundation Early Career Award and the Paul W. and Valerie Klipsch Distinguished Professorship in 2017. His LAUNCH team includes business lead Sean O’Shea and advisor Dana Catron.
O’Shea, program director of the Santa Fe Business Incubator and LAUNCH team business lead, is the first colleague in the LAUNCH program’s history to join a team as an “outsider.” O’Shea was not previously affiliated with NMSU before signing on to a LAUNCH team. This marks a notable expansion of the program.
“I was initially drawn to the LAUNCH program to learn, from a participant’s perspective, how university-based accelerator programs work,” O’Shea said. “I was pleasantly surprised when Dr. Tang’s technology presented such incredible commercial potential.”
The team’s technology improves on the design and functionality of a Holter monitor, a device that is worn by patients to track and record heart activity, or ECG. Tang’s invention, AlertCardio, will provide unobtrusive and reliable heart monitoring with event based recording and real time notifications. AlertCardio is part of the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), what Bernard Marr of Forbes explained as “the connected system of medical devices and applications that collect data that is then provided to healthcare IT systems through online computer networks.”
“One problem with the current Holter is that the design often leads to patients terminating the data stream and removing the device early,” Tang said. “Though the size of the device has been made marginally smaller in the past decade, Holter monitors still use long wires and strong adhesives to place multiple electrodes over a patient’s chest, which can feel invasive, inconvenient, and uncomfortable.”
His solution to the hardware design is a light and unobtrusive patch that only records when a heart anomaly is detected. Among other features, it will give more power to patients in the heart monitoring process, by taking into account a patient’s unique understanding of their own body.
“Aging presents the issue that help and dignity are often at odds with one another,” Tang said. “Technological advancements have been all about communication and improving methods of communication. The next wave of change is that technology will move from focusing on talking to one another, and shift toward caring for one another.”
Now in the prototyping stage, AlertCardio will use artificial intelligence to do part of the data monitoring currently shouldered by cardiologists. Tang has patented one element of the device and is working on patents for additional elements.
“We can think of the AI as putting one cardiologist on a chip in the sensor,” Tang said. “Though the technology will not, of course, replace a cardiologist 100 percent, it will result in lower cardiac health care costs for aging populations.”
For more information on the LAUNCH program, contact program coordinator Gina Duttle at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 575-646-7279. To read more about the LAUNCH process, visit arrowheadcenter.nmsu.edu/launch.