University of Canterbury Students Awarded for Innovation at New Zealand’s First Healthtech Innovation Supernode Challenge
UC students were recognised as winning inventors last month at the HealthTech Supernode Challenge, the first event of its kind to celebrate innovation in the healthcare sector.
The HealthTech Supernode Challenge invited students from around New Zealand to solve technical problems within the healthcare sector, either related to aged care, rural care, or in an open category.
It was no simple feat even to be part of the challenge, as only the top 20 of the 128 applicants were accepted to go on with the six-week research and development programme. During these six weeks, the teams had access to local and national mentors in the healthcare industry, as well as the challenge’s judges themselves.
From there, eight finalists pitched their ideas to an elite industry judging panel, including Ministry of Health Chief Science Advisor Ian Town and Chief Executive of ChristchurchNZ Joanna Norris.
Four category winners and one supreme winner were then announced at the Manawa in Christchurch’s Health Innovation Precinct, which all shared the $40,000 cash prize package.
The winners of the HealthTech Supernode Challenge were:
UC Engineering PhD candidate Lui Holder-Pearson won the Best Solution from a Student Team for the Accessible Insulin Pump. UC Engineering’s Dr Debbie Munro won the Best Solution from a Large Enterprise team for their Diagnostic Implantable Sensor System For Spinal Fusion. UC Science’s Professor Maggie-Lee Huckabee won the challenge’s Best Solution from a Canterbury team for their BiSSkApp. Richard Shepherd and his team, including the inventor UC Engineering’s Professor Keith Alexander, won the challenge’s Best Aged Care Solution Prize for their HT Systems Kera Transfer Aid. The winner of the challenge’s Best solution from a startup team was Richard Anthony McCulloch’s Next Step™, which was the Overall Winner.
Depending on the category, the winners had access to contracts with the Canterbury District Health board, access to Ryman Healthcare’s innovation team, and potential seed funding from WNT Ventures — a Callaghan Innovation enabled tech incubator.
All in all, it was a tremendously affirming night for the University of Canterbury, being involved in five out of eight finalists. It seems the challenge also succeeded in championing Christchurch as a leading centre of health innovation, by partnering New Zealand’s bright student minds with their industry counterparts.