Innovation can’t be stopped by a quarantine. The 2020 annual UCSF-Stanford Pediatric Device Consortium Pitch Competition, originally scheduled to take place at the Stanford University School of Medicine, went off seamlessly in a virtual, but still highly interactive format last month.
The Pediatric Device Consortium (PDC) felt it was critical to hold the competition as planned in order to support the much-needed development of health technologies for children, while making necessary format changes such as forgoing the accompanying symposium with keynote speakers and panelists.
Goal of competition remains unchanged
The event was kicked off by long-time collaborator with the Fogarty Institute and Dr. Fogarty, James Wall, MD, co-director of Stanford Biodesign’s Innovation Fellowship and an associate professor of surgery at Stanford University. James, who specializes in minimally invasive approaches to children’s surgery, is the co-director of the consortium.
During the event, 10 finalists selected from more than 50 applicants virtually pitched their pediatric device ideas to a panel of judges that included FII’s chief commercial strategy officer, Marga Ortigas-Wedekind. The competitors vied for awards of up to $50,000 as well as prototyping support, customized advising and commercialization coaching. Funding for the awards is provided through an FDA grant (Office of Orphan Products Development) and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals.
The finalists offered a broad range of innovative solutions to pediatric conditions, including the top prize winner, Eclipse Regenesis, a startup co-founded by Tom Krummel, MD, FII chairman and co-director of Stanford Biodesign. Eclipse is developing a surgical device to address short bowel syndrome, a devastating condition that impairs the patient’s ability to absorb nutrients from food. Thirty percent of these patients die before age three.
Reflecting on this year’s applicants, James noted that two themes stood out in particular. “We are seeing an increasing number of companies deploying digital and AI-based platforms. While that’s an overall trend in healthcare, we are delighted to see it expand to pediatrics,” he said. In addition, he noted that many participating companies seem to be further down the road in terms of development. “That is really promising as it means their treatments are closer to entering the market to help young patients.”
Palmm, a Fogarty Institute company that is developing a simple, at-home treatment for hyperhidrosis, was one of the winners of last year’s competition.
Consortium addresses COVID-19 needs in pediatrics
In response to the current COVID-19 situation, the PDC reviewed short-, medium- and long-term programs they could support and focused on one of the most pressing needs, funding several COVID-19 initiatives including the Stanford ventilator project to build an inexpensive, scalable ventilator that can be used for kids and adults.
“We are incredibly lucky that pediatrics seems to have been relatively spared from this pandemic, but we must prepare for a future pandemic where this may not be the case,” said James.
The group also launched a Biodesign pediatric needs finding program to investigate issues such as how the pandemic may impact the immune-compromised population. They will also consider how to prepare for future potential pandemics that may affect children and adults alike, including how to prepare to protect the younger, vulnerable population.
The next Pediatric Innovation Showcase will be held in March 2021 at the University of California, San Francisco.
About the UCSF-Stanford Pediatric Device Consortium
The UCSF-Stanford Pediatric Device Consortium was established in 2018 with a five-year, $6.7 million grant from the FDA to James Wall, MD; and Shuvo Roy, Ph.D., and Michael Harrison, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco.
The organization aims to improve the health, safety and quality of life of pediatric patients by accelerating high-value, high-impact pediatric device solutions at all stages of the total product lifecycle towards commercialization.
For the full list of 2020 Pitch Competition finalists, click here.
For the 2020 Virtual Competition video, click here.