2015 IDEA² Madrid Awardees

Madrid – MIT consortium names Awardees in biomedical technology innovation competition

IDEA2 Madrid 2015 supported 10 teams and 31 people with international expertise and mentors

En Español

  • Elite international mentorship for Madrid’s biomedical technology innovators with new ideas
  • Experts from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MedLumics, CNIO, and many Madrid-based institutions advised teams of researchers and entrepreneurs
  • Diverse projects range from mobile health apps for stroke victims to nanomaterials for cancer therapy
  • Experience increases healthcare impact of new ideas

The Madrid-MIT M+Visión Consortium, a partnership of the regional government of Madrid and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), announced the 2015 Awardees of its innovation mentorship program IDEA² Madrid. The program helps emerging innovators living and working in Madrid to refine their biomedical technology ideas and turn them into projects with higher potential for healthcare impact. Along the way, the participants develop their leadership skills and international networks. As Awardees, project teams win enhanced opportunities to work with global experts and collaborators.

For many teams, an important aspect of IDEA2 is learning to communicate their ideas to people in diverse professional disciplines. “The members of our team work in universities and hospitals, so our background is mainly academic,” said Alejandro Baeza García, a member of Awardee team Nanodrone. “We were not used to presenting our ideas in a non-academic forum. We have experienced a great perspective shift after our pass through IDEA2 Madrid. Now, we are more capable of conveying our ideas more efficiently and persuasively.”

Miguel Galán, member of another Awardee team, said “We’ve put in a lot of work and effort into the IDEA2 process, and being recognized for that effort and the strength of our idea is extremely gratifying. Especially when that recognition comes from the alliance of a prestigious university such as MIT and the Comunidad de Madrid.”

IDEA² Madrid 2015 Awardees

Projects respond to a diverse range of medical needs, from mobile health apps for stroke victims to nanomaterials for cancer therapy.

Nanodrone: Nanomedicines directed to Neuroblastoma
Alejandro Baeza García, Gonzalo Villaverde Cantizano, Rafael Castillo Romero, María Vallet-Regí, María Rocío Villegas Díaz, Gustavo J. Melen, Arantzazu Alfranca González, Manuel Ramírez Orellana

Nanodrone

Nanodrone team members, left to right: Rafael Castillo, Alejandro Baeza, Gonzalo Villaverde, and María Rocío Villegas. (Not shown: María Vallet-Regí, Gustavo J. Melen, Arantzazu Alfranca González, and Manuel Ramírez Orellana)

Nanodrone seeks to develop smart “nanocarriers” to selectively deliver therapeutic agents to tumor cells without affecting the healthy ones. The team proposes to employ clinically approved nanoparticles loaded with therapeutic compounds and augmented with biocompatible molecules on their surface that will be designed to recognize specific receptors expressed on the tumor cell membrane. Thus, in a similar strategy used by the ancient Greeks to enter into Troy, employing a Trojan Horse; the tumor cell will “eat” the nanoparticle introducing the therapeutic agents loaded inside the carrier and provoking their own destruction.

The review panel, which selected the Awardees, said of Nanodrone, “We have been especially impressed by the innovative momentum powering this group. The team members are developing this ambitious project with great professionalism and passion.”

“To be one of the IDEA2 Madrid Awardees is a great honor and privilege,” said team leader Baeza García. “It means that our proposal can go one step forward in the always difficult way to convert one initial idea into a successful project, which can contribute to the improvement of the life quality of the society. Now we are full of optimism and plenty of energy to keep working.”

Video-oculography Assisted Diagnosis for early Alzheimer’s Disease
Esteban Pardo, Miguel Galán, Stefan Bullones, Javier Vera Olmos

Video-oculography Assisted Diagnosis

Video-oculography Assisted Diagnosis team, left to right: Esteban Pardo, Miguel Galán, Javier Vera Olmos, Stefan Bullones

The team is developing a diagnostic tool for patients with neurodegenerative diseases and dementia, with whom establishing the concrete etiology of their disease is often a challenge. Their device works by asking subjects to perform a series of visual oculomotor tasks and recording their responses. Using the patient’s oculomotor response as a non-invasive biomarker, and introducing the results into a machine-learning algorithm that analyzes the data, the team aim’s to provide the clinician with a reliable, point-of-care and inexpensive test to help with the differential diagnosis and staging of the cause of dementia.

The review panel remarked, “This is a project led by young students with great talent and passion for what they do. They have eagerly received our comments and advice and taken advantage of the international connections provided by IDEA² Madrid.” Arrate Muñoz Barrutia, scientist at Carlos III University of Madrid and one of the team’s mentors, said, “This project is part of an innovative wave of tools that through quantification would greatly impact neurological disorders clinical management.”

“Our team, consisting of three engineers specialized in computer vision and a medical student, met for the first time during the 2015 Hacking Medicine Madrid event,” said team member Galán. “The original idea we presented consisted of a piece of software designed to analyze computer users’ fatigue levels using webcams and machine learning. Thanks to the IDEA2 program and the feedback we received, our idea evolved to cover the more urgent clinical need of aiding diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.”

mPark: An mHealth tool for the rehabilitation of Parkinson’s Disease
Jorge Cancela González

mPark

Jorge Cancela González, mPark project leader

mPark is aimed at building a mHealth (mobile health) solution for rehabilitation using platforms already available in the market such as smartphones and smartwatches. Specifically, mPark is aimed at addressing Parkinson’s disease (PD) and to explore the feasibility of extending this approach to other conditions.

“IDEA2 helped me to find the unmet need and to focus on it, transforming results from basic research into an mHealth solution impacting patients’ lives and providing therapists with better tools to support their daily activity,” said Cancela González. “Currently, I’m finishing the prototype and I expect to run a first study to validate and to start collecting data. Being one of the IDEA2 Madrid Awardees is a huge motivation to keep working and the confirmation that now mPark is moving in the right direction.”

According to the review panel, “mPark is an interesting project which is well focused. The committee has been especially impressed with Jorge’s ability to develop his ideas and the way in which he has taken full advantage of working with his catalysts over the past months.”

From ideas to market potential

IDEA² Madrid Co-chairs Ignacio Navarro Arrate and Rocío Anula

IDEA² Madrid Co-chairs Ignacio Navarro Arrate and Rocío Anula

“We are very pleased with the entries we received for this year’s IDEA² Madrid program,” said Ignacio Navarro Arrate, co-chair of the program. “The winning ideas have great potential and represent the spirit of the innovative ecosystem built by M+Visión. Indeed, it has been especially difficult to choose the Awardees because of the exceptionally high standard of the entries. This year we have seen more clinical staff presenting innovative ideas, which is a development of which we are particularly proud.”

In February 2015, the M+Visión Consortium invited early stage biomedical technology innovators and entrepreneurs to submit pre-proposals for projects that could improve healthcare. The IDEA2 Madrid Review Panel evaluated the pre-proposals and chose 11 Finalists to advance to the project acceleration phase of the program. Two of the teams emerged from the 3-day “hackathon” Hacking Medicine Madrid, when they were awarded Finalist status on the merits of the medical challenges they identified in that event.

The Finalists were assigned “Proposal Catalysts” (engineering, science, medicine, and business mentors) who, over the subsequent five-month period, provided advice towards the development of a mature project proposal. 34 catalysts were involved this year, representing leading institutions and companies such as MIT, MedLumics, CNIO, UC3M, CSIC, Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Hospital Universitario de Fuenlabrada, among many others. Finalists are given access to specific catalysts for their technical expertise and extensive networks. In addition, the Finalists were given multiple training opportunities to refine and enhance their proposal in preparation for their final presentations on November 4, 2015.

Nanodrone team leader Baeza García noted the catalysts’ impact on their project. “After our participation in IDEA2 Madrid and thanks to the wonderful help provided by the catalysts, we have a more clear picture of our project, more properly focused on the real needs of the clinicians. IDEA2 also helped us to generate novel ideas which one day could improve the life quality of the patients affected by complex diseases.”

Finalists received training over the Summer and Fall of 2015 with M+Visión’s IDEA³ Innovation Method. They learned techniques to refine and target their projects at demonstrated medical needs, and to communicate their ideas effectively to potential collaborators and investors. Baeza García, of Nanodrome, underscored the importance of driving the project idea toward real-life use. “After a certain time working in the project, we realized that if we really wanted to get a solution to this disease we needed to reach a market. We needed to learn how to translate a nice idea into a successful project. After our participation in IDEA2 and thanks to the wonderful help provided by our catalysts, we have a clearer picture of our project, more properly focused on the real needs of the clinicians treating patients.”

Finalists advancing diverse biomedical innovations

Although the program named three Awardees this week, all Finalist teams benefitted from the resources and connections of the intense IDEA² Madrid curriculum and plan to continue their work. The relationships and networks they have cultivated as Finalists, and their projects, stand to enrich the healthcare innovation ecosystem in Madrid. In the months ahead these teams, like the Awardees, will seek collaborators and funding sources to move their projects closer to healthcare reality.

“Thanks to IDEA², we could refine not only the commercial, but also some technical aspects that add more value to our product, making it more competitive,” said Elena Doménech Cruz, whose team is developing a new tool to improve chemotherapy compounds and mitigate side effects. “We could interact with industry and academic professionals from different fields, from microscopy to marketing, who accompany us during the whole process and provide us from a global view of the project. This has been a very good exercise for the whole process of technology transfer from basic research to market.”

The other Finalist projects were:

Visor Optical Coherence Tomography
Hrebesh Subhash

Developing a low cost, compact, and affordable Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) visor, based on digital planar holographic spectrometer technology, for ophthalmic care applications in resource-limited settings.

Strokecare
David Pedroche, Maria Jose Hurtado, Maximo Carbajo

Strokecare is developing a technology to diminish the troubles and associated costs for stroke patients with a mobile app to support their rehabilitation.

Miniaturized Transesophageal Echocardiography Probe for Hemodynamic Monitoring
Aaron Blandino Ortiz

A project to develop a new miniature device for transesophageal echocardiography, which would mainly be used in intensive care units and operating rooms for heart surgery to obtain qualitative and quantitative information on cardiac function in real time.

Development of an in-vivo platform for screening antimitotic compounds and explore synergies with current antimitotic drugs used in clinics
Elena Doménech Cruz, Diego Megías, Marcos Malumbres

The team is developing a platform to rapidly determine safe combinations of chemotherapies for patients who need multiple treatments. It can also aid in the search for synergies between anti-mitotic drugs currently used in the clinic, and for new compounds that targets mitosis.

APPropriate: Adequate and early treatment for ulcers
Borja Castejón Navarro, Marta Garnica Ureña

The APPropriate team’s goal is to develop an application that helps non-specialized healthcare professionals make better decisions about vascular ulcer management, direct treatments, and follow up with patients.

Eyefiller Biopolymer
Isabel Martinez Tejada, Santiago Romagosa Arjona

The project is based on the creation of a hybrid biopolymer to fill the eye cavity after the vitreous humor has been removed.

Pill Journal
Ángela Martín Ruiz, Arturo González Ferrer, Arturo Pérez Mulas

Pill Journal is a simple IT system that would allow users to register their medications, whether prescribed by a doctor, recommended by the pharmacist or bought over the counter. By linking it to existing databases and standard medication vocabularies, it detects possible crossed-actions and potential adverse reactions to improve safety.

Cultivating the next class of medtech innovators

IDEA2 Madrid meets a growing need in Spain to support young technology entrepreneurs. Health technologies, in particular, require great expertise, patience and resources to develop from ideas into patient care innovations. IDEA2 Madrid provides finalist teams, who were selected from a competitive call, with connections to the technology and business experts they need to develop their technology ventures.

“IDEA2 Madrid is a wonderful forum for identifying unmet needs and solutions in complex arenas,” said Peter Hansen, a medical technology entrepreneur who advised teams this year. “In the end, communicating the complete picture is often the major challenge.”

Preparing to compete in the marketplace is also a critical challenge for new medical technologies. Javier Colas, M+Visión Co-director and Vice President of global medical device maker Medtronic said, “Very often we see great innovative ideas to be applied in health care but the real issue in a very regulated and complex environment is to support it with a realistic business model.” He and other mentors from industry contributed their advice to the young entrepreneurs about navigating these challenges.

Muñoz Barrutia agrees that the program fulfills an important needs among the country’s emerging technology entrepreneur class. “IDEA2 Madrid is boosting meaningful innovation among Spain’s youth.”

To learn more about IDEA2 Madrid, please contact Sandra Widland at swidland@mit.edu

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About the Madrid-MIT M+Visión Consortium
The Madrid-MIT M+Visión Consortium is a partnership of leaders in science, medicine, engineering, business, and the public sector dedicated to catalyzing change in Madrid’s healthcare innovation ecosystem. It was founded by Comunidad de Madrid, through Fundación madri+d para el Conocimiento, in 2010, in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

About Fundación para el Conocimiento madri+d 
La Fundación para el Conocimiento madri+d (or, Madri+d Knowledge Foundation, pronounced “Madri-mas-d”) is a network that connects public and private research and regional associations, integrating academia and industry to improve the competitiveness of the Madrid region.