Innovating Health Care | ACC.24 Innovation Pitch Challenge

Bloomer Tech, YoungHeartValve Inc. Win ACC.24 Innovation Pitch Challenge

Textile-based sensors and polymer-based stents came out on top in this year's annual Innovation Pitch Challenge, part of the Future Hub activities organized by the College's Health Care Innovation Section.

"Historically, we have two pitch competitions, one in partnership with the National Health, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Small Business Innovation Research program, and another as an open call for any start-up companies to throw their hat in the ring," says David Cho MD, MBA, FACC, past Section chair, who led the planning for the event.

"This member-favorite competition is a great opportunity for start-up companies to pitch directly to ACC members, many of whom may be future users or customers," adds Cho, as well as a way for the audience to be directly involved by helping select a "People's Choice" award. From a field of eight start-up companies who were selected and vetted by the Section Leadership Team, two winners were ultimately selected by an experienced judge's panel.

The first day of competition focused on the NHLBI Small Innovation Research program participants, each of which had been granted $1.5-$2 million in funding. Host Fabio Lima, MD, FACC, led judges Jennifer Silva, MD, FACC; Tom Shehab, MD; Krishna Pundi, BS, MD; Emeka Anyanwu, MD; Tanvir Kahlon, MD, MBA; and the participating ACC.24 audience on voting for the top prize.

Bloomer Tech, a health care technology company founded and led by women in STEM to improve health care in women, won the challenge, with its Bloomer Bra, a novel garment embedded with medical-grade sensors. "Bloomer Tech's product aims to generate digital biomarkers for women's cardiovascular health and improve disparities through the lens of a standard smart-bra with sensors," says Cho.

Named for Amelia Bloomer, a women's rights advocate in the 1800s who used fashion to revolutionize women's health, the patented data-acquisition Bloomer Tech Platform consists of the Bloomer Bra with an electrocardiogram device, app, analytics and data.

The data provided to users and clinicians enables real-time personalized health care, early detection and management. The interactive tools in the app are designed to help women improve their heart health.

Bloomer Tech has used its NHLBI funding for a clinical trial of its bra and platform in women undergoing cardiac rehab. Competition runners-up were Auscultech, Centerline Biomedical and Sensydia.

The second day of competition focused on early-stage companies and was hosted by Cho, with judges Sneha Shah Jain, MD, MBA; Stephen Flaim, PhD, FACC, FAHA; Julie Marston, MSN, RN; Fabio Lima, MD, FACC; and ACC's Chief Innovation Officer Ami Bhatt, MD, FACC. Companies included YoungHeartValve Inc., Acorai, ENSIGHT-AI and Toku Inc.

"YoungHeartValve won the open-call pitch competition by featuring a new generation of prosthetic valve material that would exceed the resilience and duration of current market solutions," says Cho.

The biotech company says its patented polymer-based leaflet and purpose-built stent eliminates the need for harvesting pericardium and produces a heart valve that is biocompatible and more durable than tissue-based valves.

Moreover, its investigational hyaluronan-enhanced Rejuvenate TAVR device creates a "proven thrombosis- and calcification-resistant biomolecular interpenetrated network." The goal is to engineer a valve for a lifetime, without the need for multiple interventions and daily medication.

"The ACC Health Care Innovation Section is proud to support the entrepreneurial mission of these founders to improve heart health, and we're excited to continue our work in partnership in the years ahead," says Cho.

The Innovation Pitch Challenge was just one of the many events hosted at ACC.24's Future Hub, which celebrated cutting-edge research and insightful innovation transforming the field of cardiovascular care. Challenge participants had five minutes to deliver their pitches in person and another five to field questions from the judges. The winners will be able to present their technology at their own expo booth at ACC.25, right next to the Future Hub.

Keywords: Cardiology Magazine, ACC Publications, Biomedical Technology, Delivery of Health Care, Electrocardiography, Mobile Applications, ACC Annual Scientific Session, Polymers, ACC24

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