The Texas Medical Center has said that its accelerator TMCx aims to boost fledgling healthcare startups. On Tuesday, the young inventors getting a boost were aged eight and nine.
About 100 students from the British International School of Houston had a demo day at TMXc pitching health IT innovations such as a wearable to detect dehydration, a “nappy for nosebleeds,” a robot for Alzheimer’s patients, and a number of different ways to make crutches more comfortable and easy to use. (Apparently, broken bones and twisted ligaments are an acute problem among the primary-school set.)
“This is our beta,” said Bill McKeon, TMC’s COO and chief strategy officer, in welcoming remarks to an audience of teachers, school staff, and parents. “We thought this would be a great way to talk about entrepreneurship beyond the lemonade stand.”
The TMC was connected to the British School through Katey Forth, founder of iShoe, one of the accelerator startups. Her son, Oliver, attends the school and was one of the founders of Baby’s Best Friend: Mobile Monitor, which monitors and records a baby’s distress via a camera and sensors attached to a mobile overhead.
The British school currently has an entrepreneurial program as part of its curriculum and this year it was tweaked to focus on health-related technologies. TMC officials said they would like to expand the program, called “TMCx Young Inventors,” to other schools in Houston.
Tuesday, there were a total of 20 teams whose members made three-minute pitches to a panel of judges from local universities and hospitals.
The students did a pretty good job—setting plausibility aside—and many had done enough research to cite data about the number of Alzheimer’s or diabetes patients and to address typical startup issues such as target market and customer validation. I’ve sat through a lot of demo days, and these student teams had both polished pitches and were poised enough to have pithy comebacks to judge’s questions.
Many of the teams had catchy slogans to accompany the products: “For the memory that forgets!” (Alzheimer’s Android) and “No more pain! Float your way to recovery!” (Air Crutches.)
Two of the judges—Hesam Panahi, founder of the RedLabs accelerator at the University of Houston, and Kerri Smith, who heads the OwlSpark accelerator at Rice University—spent time at the school last week to help guide the students on their projects.
“Some of them really did pivot on their idea from last week to next,” Smith said. “They came up with new features.”
“I admired how ambitious they were,” she added. “They were fearless.”