IDE Group X SOMI Hackathon

The Society of Medical Innovation is a three day event where students from UNSW were given the chance to form a team and develop their own innovative medical ideas. IDE’s Christopher Krainer and Will Postle were chosen to both mentor and judge the contestants. IDE interviewed Chris to find out more about the event.

What made the SOMI Hackathon stand out from the rest of the events you attend?

I think what was extraordinary was the diversity of the participants. There were doctors, students, innovators, UX designers and engineers. In comparison to other hackathons i have attended, this particularly stood out to me that there was a whole range of skill and knowledge from across NSW.

What role did you play in the event?

Will and I were chosen to mentor with engineering and on the final day we were on the panel of judges.

What is it that make students so important to the medtech industry?

Firstly, students have the knowledge about state-of-the-art technology, I find that I can always learn a lot from students about tech and methodologies when I attend these events, they help me keep up to date with the industry.

Furthermore, students have a certain level of naivety that those who are senior in the industry do not have, students are more inclined to take risks. If you have a balanced team with some students they can be extremely beneficial.

Were the projects diverse? Did you see many recurring themes?

The projects were extremely diverse, they ranged from an app, to DNA sequencing accelerator service, a small hardware device for colour blind people, as well as the winners.

What were your main takeaways from the event? Did anything surprise you?

My main takeaway was that these events are the place to be to ensure we are in the future, to engage with young potentials. But to also find new direction in the medical space. Personally, if you work in the medtech industry I have recognised the importance of interacting with our clients environment, whether that be at universities or hospitals. The SOMI event was beneficial both to us and the students in connecting the link between the professors, organisations such as IDE, as well as different client environments.

I also learned to look at things from a different perspective, I saw a couple of issues crop up in the hackathon that I can apply to problem solving here at IDE, it was interesting to see the students thought and problem solving processes.

Tell us about the winners, were there any ideas that you found particularly innovative?  

The winners made a device in the form of leggings made from an e- textile which aids in the breakdown of muscle, commonly found in muscle atrophy patients, it was a great use of the evolving technology of smart textiles.

There was one project that particularly stood out to me: an app aimed at increasing the number of blood donations. This app will contain a “blood tracker” which shows where your blood goes once you have donated. A “life's saved” count, as well as mobile blood donation bus trackers will be included in the app. I think this is a great idea in terms of contribution to society.

Emily Hardy