The institute investigators comprise three of 21 teams of aspiring inventors and entrepreneurs from academic institutions in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia. The DC I-Corps program is a seven week program hosted by the University of Maryland, George Washington University, and Virginia Tech that will teach the innovators how to identify a product-market fit for their idea, and develop a scalable business model at the same time—an approach based on the Silicon Valley-style Lean Startup Model.
The Children’s National teams are each led by a Joseph E. Robert, Jr., Fellow in Pediatric Surgical Innovation, a hybrid medical and business fellowship at Children’s that is designed to engage young medical professionals in the full spectrum of creating innovative approaches in pediatrics. “The lean start up method focuses on product market fit and each team in the program consists of an entrepreneurial lead, a principal investigator and an industrial mentor. In the seven week duration of the program, the teams are required to conduct 100 interviews to tease out what really drives customer demand,” noted Floortje Blindenbach-Driessen who mentors the Robert Fellows and is also involved in the DC I-corps program.
“The DC Innovation Corps is a natural match for our young Sheikh Zayed Institute Robert Fellows,” said Peter Kim, MD, Vice President of the Sheikh Zayed Institute. “We anticipate great progress on the ideas put forth by our participating investigators.”
The three projects that will be part of the DC I-Corps program include:
- ChronoKair: comprehensive healthcare smartphone/tablet application covering a patient's entire hospital course. Entrepreneurial Lead: Kelly Swords, MD, MPH, urologist and pediatric urology fellow and adjunct faculty, the George Washington University, and 2012 Robert Fellow.
- Patient mounted CT/MRI-guided needle placement robot: small and lightweight robot for needle placement under CT/MRI-guidance for biopsy, ablation and therapeutic/contrast agent injection. Entrepreneurial Lead: Reza Seifabadi, PhD, a biomedical engineer with medical robotics and devices background and a 2013 Robert Fellow.
- Smartpupillometer: smart phone application for measuring pupil size and reactivity in different clinical settings. Entrepreneurial Lead: Mariana Mafra Junqueira, MD, anesthesiologist and pediatrician, and 2012 Robert Fellow and Gabriela Calhoun, M.D., anesthesiologist, 2013 Robert Fellow.
Sheikh Zayed Institute leaders reflect on the program…
“It has been a very interesting experience and valuable learning opportunity to be able to share our thoughts and receive multiple inputs about our ideas is an enriching experience. It also helped us to understand our project beyond the scientific point of view and prepare ourselves for the next steps. It is a unique chance to add more knowledge and experience to our current training during the Robert Fellowship.”
- Gabriela Calhoun, Sheikh Zayed Institute
“As a Robert Fellow, I’ve been training at Children’s to become an entrepreneur and learning the startup process. The I-Corps is just exactly what I need. It is based on a Silicon Valley methodology called Lean startup that tries to minimize the risk of startups failures which is currently 75%! The whole idea is to get out of the building and talk to customers since all a company founder has is bunch of untested hypotheses. You start with the value propositions and who pays and cares about it – something that you may find out very late. Your progress is totally quantified through the notion of business model canvas and monitored by the teaching team through the fabulous Launchpad Central. I am fully confident that what I learn here is directly applicable to my Robert Fellowship project.”
- Reza Seifabadi, Sheikh Zayed Institute
DC I-Corps is a regional program designed to foster, grow, and nurture an innovation ecosystem in the nation's capital and the mid-Atlantic region. The program is sponsored by the NSF and is part of a national network of five regional nodes selected by the NSF to participate in the I-Corps program. This cohort began on October 7, 2013. Read more about the first cohort of the DC I-Corps or learn more about the DC I-Corps program.