Innovation Tank: And the winner is … AIR

Innovation Tank
Kevin Cedrone presents AIR to the judges at the Innovation Tank

“These start-ups are really looking to change the world. [They won’t be] the next Uber or Facebook. [Instead] they will really affect lives in the pediatric space,” said Troy Carter, founder and CEO of the entertainment company Atom Factory and newly named guest shark on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” as he introduced the Innovation Tank at the Boston Children’s Hospital Global Pediatric Innovation Summit + Awards.

Though each of the three participating innovations promised a tremendous impact on kids, the six judges agreed on the ultimate Innovation Tank winner and awarded a $30,000 investment to the Augmented Infant Resuscitator (AIR).

Kevin Cedrone, PhD, developer of AIR, persuaded the judges with a compelling and well-documented presentation. “Every year,” said Cedrone, “10 million infants need help taking their first breath.” A total of 1.8 million babies die, and many others suffer permanent problems.

The problem occurs primarily in the developing world, and is largely preventable. But it can be tricky for providers to use ventilation equipment devices properly.

AIR at a glance

AIR, a low-cost ventilation add-on device for infants with breathing problems, works with existing resuscitation equipment, using sensors and real-time feedback to help clinicians identify and address airway obstruction, air leaks around the mask, incorrect ventilation rate and excessive ventilation pressure.

Cedrone devised the innovation at an MIT Hacking Medicine Global Health Hackathon  in October 2012, engineering the device from automotive sensors.

AIR’s strong potential clinical impact — along with its well-documented financial case — swayed the judges.

Cedrone cited a study indicating AIR could reduce infant ventilation problems by 26 to 48 percent. “It’s a $250 million opportunity in the respiratory device market,” he explained. Cedrone envisions a differentiated pricing strategy for AIR, selling each unit at $40 in developing countries and whatever the market would bear in the U.S. His goal is a unit cost of $6 to $10 per unit.

“AIR is profitable at the $40 price point,” he stated.

Cedrone’s goal is to deploy in the device in January 2017.

Other competitors in the Innovation Tank, which was sponsored by Philips, were Myomo, a company that aims to modify its powered arm brace for the pediatric market, and Kindrdfood Inc., makers of personalized virtual consults to guide families who have to change their eating patterns due to a medical condition, food allergy, dietary restriction or a change in the family.

Watch video highlights of the 2015 Global Pediatric Innovation Summit + Awards.