While "angel" is a classic term for backers of Broadway shows, the breed who showed up for Tuesday's 18th Angel Venture Fair could wind up aligning with their heavenly namesakes if they help some of the lifesaving start-ups pitched to 400 guests at the Union League.
Stamp of the champ. As much as 30 percent of medicine sold globally is counterfeit and dicey. An unmistakable SafeStamp label could stop that, vows CEO Anastasia D'Orazio, a second-year Wharton MBA student, and her partner/CTO Meet Vora.
Vora is a 2015 engineering graduate from Penn with a master's in nanotechnology, the secret sauce in their drug labeling product.
SafeStamp, which a drug firm would affix to the label, packs a dual mode sensor activated by human touch and the minute amounts of alcohol in breath. Touching and breathing on the label changes the colors of splotches to show whether the product is legit.
"Without nanotech expertise - very hard to come by - you cannot shift the colors as we do," Vora said. D'Orazio said adding a SafeStamp to a pill bottle could cost the drug maker "50 cents to a dollar, including our markup." So it would likely be put first on higher-priced drugs.
To the rescue. Cervical cancer screening is hard to come by in the developing world, putting a billion women at risk. The Penn-based brainstormers behind SelfCerve aim to fix that, in part for personal reasons. Swaziland-born COO Thulani Tsabedze lost his mother to cervical cancer two years ago. SelfCerve is a $15 device with a soft silicon tip that gets coated with acetic acid (vinegar) before easy insertion. An onboard LED camera takes a picture of the cervix, revealing normal conditions or lesions, which can be treated and eradicated if caught in time. Is five minutes fast enough? That's what testing takes, with results revealed on SelfCerve's smart handle.
Wishing won't make it so. Patients who have suffered through the prep for a colonoscopy sigh with relief when the doc gives a thumbs up and says "See you again in 10 years."
But, wouldn't you want a test more often? The team behind Geneoscopy - including Wharton MBA candidate Andrew Barnell and his Washington University School of Medicine-attending sister Erica Barnell - aim to make it possible in stressless fashion.
Their screening claims to learn from just a stool sample, using a series of "novel washes and extractions and a custom library of telltale biomarkers associated with CRC."
Drink a highball. Penn freshman Max Reed, his squash team buddy Anders Larson, and Drexel engineering junior Danish Dhamani suggest there's no way to stop binge drinking on campuses.
But lots of lives can be saved and misdeeds avoided if students wear a BACelet, a chic bracelet with an easily activated sensor that reveals the wearer's blood alcohol content. "Just blow and glow and show," said Reed. The team envisions a basic $35 model that lights up a slim band of indicator lights and a $55 model that connects to a smartphone app and calls a friend to take you home. Dartmouth has committed to test 200 to 300, Reed says.
Speech-to-eyeball glasses. Ten- to 17-year-old deaf and hard-of-hearing students will swim in the academic mainstream more easily if Renee Kakareka's oLIVE Devices smart glasses are realized.
A fluent signer and industrial design senior at Philadelphia University, she dreamed up a device that is a variation on Google Glass. Its microphones collect speech, convert it to script, and beam that into the retina of the eyes.