03:08 AM

​Student entrepreneurs win national competition with MRI motion-correction system

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A team of Ohio State University students has won a national competition that supports their launch of a new business to commercialize innovative medical imaging technologies.

The student entrepreneurs created Buckeye SmarterImage (now called NeuroCognetix Inc.) to commercialize a patent-pending system consisting of a camera and proprietary software algorithm that compensates for patient movement during brain MRI scans. Discarded scans and rescans to replace degraded images add up to a $6 billion annual problem for the nation’s health care system, the students estimate.

The Ohio State group was among 13 winning teams of the Neuro Startup Challenge, a competition designed to foster commercialization of promising medical inventions that are based on technologies created with National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. These inventions include therapeutics, diagnostics, prognostics and medical devices designed to improve brain health.

The development team was led by Safa Salman, a doctoral student in electrical and computer engineering at Ohio State. The same team also placed second in the open-track category of Fisher College of Business’ Ohio State Business Plan Competition earlier this spring.

“We think we have had so much success with our business model because there are a lot of advantages associated with the motion-correction system: It can be installed on existing machines, it won’t lengthen the scan time or distort the image, and we can document predicted savings that will result from acquiring higher-quality images,” Salman said. The team estimates a savings of $220,000 per machine per year after covering the initial investment in the technology.

Salman said she and her colleagues are initiating collaborationwith Ohio State’s Department of Radiology, the Wright Center of Innovation in Biomedical Imaging, Wexner Medical Center and MRI manufacturers to bring this technology to market.

The founding team also includes electrical engineering graduate students Markus Novak and A.T.M. Sarwar, biomedical engineering student Michael Bush and Fisher College MBA graduate John Lockwood. The entrepreneurs are supported by an extensive group of mentors and industry insiders, including technical specialists from several major MRI system manufacturers.

The winning teams were selected based on their business plans, financial models and live pitches. They now move forward to phase three, when they will be mentored to launch startups, incorporate their business, apply for licensing and execute development and regulatory requirements.

More than 578 students and entrepreneurs in 70 teams competed in the Neuro Startup Challenge. The competition was organized by the Center for Advancing Innovation and sponsored by the Heritage Provider Network in collaboration with the NIH.