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Distanced But Not Deterred: MSIM Students End Spring Semester with Virtual Sprint Presentations

As the Spring semester culminates with Innovation Sprint presentations for MSIM students, they anticipate new experiences, challenges and developments ahead.
MSIM students convened on Zoom to present their final presentations for the Spring semester.

The end of the Spring semester marks just the beginning of an ongoing journey for MS in Innovation and Management students and their Innovation Sprints.

On the morning of Saturday, May 2, the 10 teams converged on Zoom to present final project updates to a panel of judges which provided feedback and recommendations. Many teams continued developing the business plans from their mid-semester presentations, while others pivoted to entirely new concepts and products over the last few weeks. Leading up to the live event, each team submitted a pre-recorded presentation for the judges to review in advance of the 1-minute pitches and Q&A sessions.

Built into the MSIM program’s curriculum, Innovation Sprints are fast-paced, intense ventures that simulate and parallel aspects of launching a startup – from performing market research to forecasting profitability.

“Each time the teams go through the Innovation Sprint process, they get better at it. When they go through the process for a third time this summer, they’ll take all they have learned here and carry it forward – so they continue to refine and sharpen their thinking and ideas,” said Kevin Oye, Executive Director of Tufts Gordon Institute and Director of the MSIM program.

This weekend’s final presentations mark a milestone in the cohort’s path to graduation, but success is measured more by the continuous refinement – a quality there’s no shortage of in MSIM students. As they continue to reimagine the boundaries of traditional problem solving, the impacts are felt in a wide range of industries.

 

Anaïs

Team members: Lynn Dannan

When you are asked to imagine what a bride looks like, what comes to mind? 

According to Lynn, for many, “it’s typically a woman wearing a white gown and a veil and she’s walking down the aisle.” 

“At Anaïs, we challenge the idea that there’s only one way to look like a bride and we believe every woman must have the freedom to choose outfits – bridal outfits – that are truly representative of their individuality,” said Lynn in her pre-recorded pitch.

To challenge those norms, Anaïs seeks to deliver a contemporary twist on bridalwear by designing jumpsuits that are “simple, functional and radically daring.” The jumpsuits can be standalone pieces or worn at rehearsal dinners to complement a traditional, western gown at the main reception.

For Anaïs and the other teams, their ventures do not operate in a vacuum free of dynamic business environments. One judge asked how Lynn will navigate her venture in the era of COVID-19.

“Women are now postponing their weddings or having virtual weddings where it doesn’t make sense to wear something huge and ostentatious. We plan to address that specifically when we reach those consumers,” said Lynn. “We do want to see and understand how it’s going to work now that it’s changing for everyone – for all wedding retailers, for all bridal shops, for all designers. They all have to innovate to reach these consumers and to see how best to service their needs.”

 

Cellens

Team members: Srushti Acharekar, Jean Pham, Jonas Pirkl, Fiona Wang

Cellens challenges current standards of cancer detection which often lead to a poor patient experience for those battling and recovering from bladder cancer. Cellens builds upon research from the School of Engineering at Tufts University and works in conjunction with faculty members, advisors and clinicians. 

According to the team, “Cellens is a technology platform providing lab-developed tests for detecting malignancy. Using our unique nanoscale cell surface imaging and machine learning parameter analysis, our first application is a noninvasive urine biomarker test to address bladder cancer monitoring issues.”

Their patented technology uses laboratory techniques and artificial intelligence software. “We truly believe this technology will significantly improve the quality of life for patients,” said Srushti.

Cellens is no stranger when it comes to understanding the needs of bladder cancer patients and making strides forward. Last year, the group attended the BCAN bladder summit to gauge the needs of patients and survivors. In addition to a slew of traction at business competitions nationwide, the group was named winner of the entire Medical Devices and Life Science track at Tufts $100k New Ventures Competition. In addition, Cellens was named recipient of the the Ricci Interdisciplinary Prize. 

 

FoodEase

Team members: Ashton Stephens, Christina Holman, Earn Khunpinit, Lee Ann Song, and Sai Wang

FoodEase is an emergency preparation and response platform that harnesses the power of familiar social media platforms to “engage and empower local communities.” According to the group, they offer grassroots preparedness training for existing community networks and a streamlined way to: collect and analyze data, use machine learning for logistics and route optimization, and communicate geographic data tailored to the local infrastructure and interests. 

FoodEase, which won second place at Tufts $100k New Ventures Competition, says their recent knowledge has been informed by COVID-19. 

“We have learned there is a lot of value in the data and logistics – particularly on the first responder side. We’ve been able to speak to mutual aid networks … to really understand what the backend process looks like when you’re trying to get relief to people,” said Christina. “From that, we’ve actually updated our business model as well as our strategy design to think about how we can aggregate all of this information into a very clean dashboard.” 

 

Mental Notes

Team members: Haiting Chan, Ishmal Siddiqui, Vidhya Shree, Yunting Yan

Mental Notes provides analytical insights on dementia progression to help plan mentally active routines for people who have dementia alongside their caregivers.

“For millions of people in the US with Alzheimer’s, doctors recommend staying physically, socially and mentally active as there’s no cure nor way to delay the progression,” said Haiting. “The average Alzheimer’s caregiver spends 20 hours a week to help with a daily routine which includes activities for keeping mentally active, but they have no way of accurately accessing the effectiveness of those activities on cognitive health.”


Microbiome Analytica

Team members: Deepesh Moolchandani, Priyanka Ram

Microbiome Analytica is producing Gut Rover, “the first 3D-printed, biocompatible, non-invasive device that can extract lumen from the small intestine to provide relevant microbial data to biotech and pharma companies for new drug discovery,” according to the team.

“Research has shown that microbes play a big role in human health from bowel movements to cancer. The majority of gut issues are due to bacteria in the small intestine but there is no ideal method to access them,” said Priyanka. “The current gold standard involves collecting stool samples and analyzing bacterial DNA to design new drugs and therapies; however, this is expensive, impractical and not representative of the diversity in the small intestine.”

Leveraging their technology, Microbiome Analytica and Gut Rover can provide valuable insights. The group claims that the Gut Rover can selectively sample specific locations in the GI tract and provides a sample that is viable for a longer time period.


Novo Aggregates

Team members: Dan Callahan, Nirant Chilimbi, Danielle Franco, Puneet Tripathi

Novo Aggregates is a “B2B company that specializes in repurposing waste products into useful construction materials. [Their] first product, “greenlite,” is a patent-protected Synthetic Lightweight Aggregate (SLA) made from Flyash and residual plastic waste that can be used to replace sand and gravel in concrete and asphalt.”

 “Roads built with greenlite are more resistant to moisture cracking, thermal creep and rutting – some of the top causes of expensive road maintenance and traffic delays. It may seem ambitious to place ourselves at the center of three enormous industries and infrastructure challenges, but we are all about creating ‘win-win-win’ situations,” said Dan. “Our business model creates value to the waste producers and the road pavers alike.” 

 

Partible

Team members: George Ginis

Partible is a “prefabrication manufacturing company that has developed the first box office structure which can be placed in any exterior part of people’s houses – creating the perfect office space for those who work or want to work remotely from home.”

Partible is similar to modular housing options but is competitively targeted towards individuals who may want a professional space separate from their living space. 

Reflecting on the situation COVID-19 has created, Partible is positioned to give the professionals new to working from home an enhanced experience. “Now, because of the pandemic, everyone is working from home, but 20 percent of those who have been asked to do so expressed a willingness to continue working from home after the pandemic,” said George. To help enhance that experience, that’s where Partible comes in.

 

SeaDeep

Team members: Alok Chand, Eric Osherow, Will Vinke

SeaDeep “ensures safe, reliable ocean research and development by providing 3D visualizations of ocean bathymetry, man-made structures.” SeaDeep accomplishes this by producing high-resolution 3D, colored maps from video footage. 

Recently, the group put their technology to the test at the New England Aquarium. Following their trip, Eric wrote, “At SeaDeep, we recognize the problems created by conventional mapping techniques and are working towards a better future of modeling. Developing fully colored, textured, and scaled 3D models of underwater sites, we are designing a method to create a 3D visualization tool for enhanced ocean site characterization. Models created through SeaDeep are extremely high in fidelity and can provide enhancements in characterization, monitoring, and visualization of underwater sites.”

 

Strydr

Team members: Qing Han, Pinar Seven, Mianqiao Wang

In addition to helping individuals who have bone fractures, Strydr seeks to provide value to hospitals that want to improve efficiency and increase the volume of patients they can effectively manage. 

According to the group, “Strydr provides an affordable and long-lasting exoskeleton product that offers efficiency [and] convenience … the project will have a B2B strategy to be purchased by companies, hospitals and therapy centers that will be provided to our end users.”

 

UpRaise by Tessera Intelligence

Team members: Ashish Kumar, Nikhil Patil, Chandini Tadepalli

UpRaise by Tessera Intelligence is “disrupting the multi-billion-dollar residential real estate appraisal industry by combining experienced appraisers with cutting edge data science to deliver low cost, accurate and faster appraisals for the residential market. Real estate appraisals are essential to arrive at the accurate value of a property.” 

The group noted that current pain points in the residential real estate appraisal market include antiquated technology, long wait times and inaccurate valuations. 

“Currently none of the established companies have an end-to-end automated appraisal system. How we’re going to be different is by focusing more on virtual appraisals and after collecting all the information, it will be used at the central location which then is used to generate a report,” said Chandini.

UpRaise by Tessera Intelligence will also take into account publicly available data like flood maps and MLS listing data.