Daymond John, of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” and a five-judge panel of venture capitalists and physicians selected two winners in the Innovation Tank at the Boston Children’s Hospital Global Pediatric Innovation Summit + Awards. The judges awarded the fledgling companies—both of which have created products to help prevent catheter-associated infections—$12,500 each. The runner-up, Kurbo, received $5,000.
“What’s amazing about the Innovation Tank is that [the winners] don’t have to give up any of their company,” John said. The number-one reason new businesses don’t succeed is overfunding. That’s because aspiring entrepreneurs often take out substantial loans to fund their innovations.
Here’s a closer look at the three innovators who participated in the tank:
Kezia Fitzgerald designed the CareAline Sleeve and Wrap when her 11-month-old daughter, Saoirse, was being treated at Boston Children’s for neuroblastoma. Her PICC line was itchy, and the tape used to secure it caused rashes. Plus, exposed caps were at constant risk for contamination from contact with toys, her diaper and more.
CareAline is a stretchable, washable cloth sleeve or wrap with a hole and pocket, which keeps the line in place, off of the skin and away from external hazards. “The product stood out to me,” said Halle Tecco, MBA, from Rock Health. “They took a really tragic situation as an opportunity to help others.”
Kezia and Mike Fitzgerald pitch their CareAline sleeve to the judges in the Innovation Tank. Their late daughter Saoirse, whose illness inspired the product, is shown on the screen behind them.
Most central line-associated blood stream infections (CLABSIs) are attributed to bacterial contamination of needleless connectors (NCs) of central venous lines. Sarah Goldberg, MD; Ali Ataollahi, PhD, and a team from Boston Children’s, designed a device to streamline the 60-second manual decontamination and disinfection process that’s required every time an NC is used.
The hand-held electric device scrubs the hub of an NC and dries it quickly, reducing the time to NC decontamination and sterilization to as little as five seconds. The device standardizes decontamination and decreases the workload of bedside providers.
“[The hub-scrubbing device] brings lean [process] into cleaning NCs and has significant potential,” pointed out Ivan Salgo, MD, MBA, the chief of cardiovascular investigations at Philips Healthcare, Innovation Tank sponsor.
HubScrub founders Sarah Goldberg, MD, and Ali Ataollahi, PhD, float their invention in front of the sharks.
Kurbo, designed by Joanna Strober and Thea Runyan and licensed from the Packard Weight Control Program at Stanford University, is a mobile weight-loss program designed for kids and teenagers between the ages of 8 and 18. The app is supplemented by weekly personal coaching aimed at supporting kids to learn healthy habits for a lifetime.
The Innovation Tank was highly competitive, evidenced by the judges’ lengthy debate about naming a winner. Ultimately, all three companies walked away winners. “The children win,” said moderator Bruce Zetter, PhD, of Boston Children’s.
Joanna Strober describes Kurbo, the weight-loss app she launched for young people.