“Technology is an integral part of the medical world”
The Ophek VR team won first place in the 3DS Conference at the Technion – after 48 hours of linking entrepreneurship, research, engineering and medicine
By Keren-Or Grinberg
The corridors of the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine at the Technion were transformed into a miniature technological accelerator during the three days of the 3DS Conference. On the last day of the conference, students presented their developed ideas to the judges to compete for the top three places. The winning team, Ophek VR, received a ticket to the annual Entrepreneurship Conference in Boston. Teams placing 1st and 2nd automatically enter the BizTEC Entrepreneurship Contes; and all three winning teams receive USD 50,000 from the AMIT Incubator at Technion.
This is the fourth year of the conference, which is supported by the Faculty of Medicine and the Technion Faculty of Biomedical Engineering, under the auspices of the joint MED2E Center. The purpose of the conference is to foster cooperation between medical students, interns and residents, as well as students from other Technion faculties and from the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering in particular. The participants have to find a technological and business solution to significant problems in the medical world, within just 48 hours.
This year, 150 students applied to the competition, and 80 were selected. The students were mentored by experts from the medical, industrial and academic sectors. The mentors included Clinical Assistant Professor Ronen Jaffe, Director of the Catheterization Unit, Department of Cardiology, Carmel Medical Center; Lena Levin, founder and CFO of Via Surgical Ltd; Dr. Yoav Medan, technological director at Ninispeech Ltd; the organizer of Haifa Digital Health and many others.
The conference opened at the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering, with the participation of the Dean of the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine Prof. Shimon Marom, and the Dean of the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering Prof. Shulamit Levenberg. Prof. Yaron Har-Shai, Deputy Dean of Strategic Development at the Faculty of Medicine, and Prof. Amir Landesberg, Director of Entrepreneurship and Industrial Relations at the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering, also played an active role. Edna Lazar, Business Development Manager at the MEDX Incubator, spoke during the evening and offering a variety of tips and advice on the process, from the concept stage to product development.
On the second day, once the teams had been formed and the concepts formulated, the participants visited the various departments of Rambam Healthcare Campus and Carmel and Bnei Zion hospitals. “This is an amazing experience that we do not have in our engineering studies” said Yonatan, a member of LaborLane. “You walk around the hospital and learn from the doctors about problems that can be solved by technological means.”
On the last day, the final 11 ideas were presented to the judges, including EasyVisit – a navigation compass and information system for patients in a hospital emergency room; RedFlag and Digitest – methods for relatively friendly gastrointestinal examination and colorectal cancer diagnosis; DentUS – a unique combination of ultrasound and acid for root canal treatment; TipOff – an ear examination for children with earwax buildup; Heart ‘n’ Sole – daily self-monitoring of heart failure; and MamaRoo – a sensor belt that learns the mother’s heart rate and conveys the sensation to the baby in the mother’s absence.
The winning team, Ophek VR, developed a system for eye examinations for children using virtual reality and an image analysis algorithm. The system was born from the personal experience of one of the team members, Igor Weiner, a medical student who works as an intern in Rambam’s Department of Ophthalmology. “We never imagined that we’d win,” he said, “We came for the experience.”
Second place went to Soundfit – a product that will enable a radiologist to hear in real time what patients with hearing problems hear, for optimal and fast fitting of hearing aids. The product was presented by Dalia Orbach, a hard-of-hearing graduate student at the Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering.
Third place went to LaborLane – a pressure sensor belt that enables the identification of prenatal labor. The idea, which arose during a visit to the Department of Gynecology at Rambam, was designed to reduce the unnecessary use of drugs to induce labor. “I see technology as an integral part of medicine, and as a medical student it was an experience to get to know the entrepreneurial side of the competition,” said Nitzan Halamish, who participated in the team together with her husband Omer, a mechanical engineering student at the Technion.
Prof. Wayne Kaplan, Technion Executive Vice President for Research, said that judging the competition was difficult because of the high quality of the products. He said: “We saw promising ideas that aroused great enthusiasm. The Technion as a research institute believes that science is the future and without it there will be no technology 10 years from now. We must invest in human resources because the State of Israel does not have oil and water resources. Our goal is to provide researchers and students with tools for creating an industry with ideas from researchers and students, through processes such as BizTEC and accelerators such as AMIT and The Drive.”
Prof. Kaplan’s colleagues on the judging panel were Mor Research Applications Ltd CEO Pini Ben-Elazar; entrepreneur and physician Dr. Dalia Megiddo; Yael Wiesel, founder and CEO of the startup Zikit; Gsap Ltd founder Dr. Sigalit Ariely Portnoy; Dr. Orna Blondheim, Director of Haemek Medical Center in Afula; and Prof. Amir Landesberg, outgoing Dean of the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering.
This year, the conference was organized by medical students Shirel Levanon, a fourth year student at the Faculty of Medicine, and Guy Barshadsky, who participated in the conference last year. The two follow in the footsteps of Bar Rinot and Yuval Barak, who brought the competition to the Technion in 2013.