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Student Initiatives Win Top Prizes in Annual Startup Yale Competition

April 24, 2020
by Colin Poitras

Two student-led public health innovations earned top prizes at this year’s Startup Yale competition.

The prizes, totaling $35,000, were sponsored by InnovateHealth Yale, a program in social entrepreneurship housed at the Yale School of Public Health and open to all Yale students. The program supports students’ innovative solutions to public health challenges.

The $25,000 Thorne Prize for Social Innovation in Health or Education, was awarded to Leslie Asanga, APMPH ‘20, Leo Lizbinski, MPH ‘20, and Roger Souke for their novel platform ePharmhub. The application allows people to search for pharmacies that have their medication in stock and identifies the locations of those pharmacies from the nearest to the farthest away. Patients who cannot afford their medications, can send a link to a relative abroad who can purchase the medication for them with just a few clicks.

"Winning the Thorne Prize has been a humbling experience especially considering the caliber of the teams we competed against,” Asanga said. “We have been bootstrapping all along, so the Thorne Prize not only provides us with funding but is also an endorsement of the hard work my team and I have put in so far.”

Asanga said the prize money will be used to recruit more programmers to refine the ePharmhub application and to reduce the product’s time to market. It will also help the team launch a robust marketing campaign.

Asanga said his team will continue to rely on the mentoring support and guidance provided by staff at InnovateHealth Yale and the entire Yale startup ecosystem as the ePharmhub project continues to grow.

The $10,000 Rita Wilson Prize Fund in Support of Innovation and Entrepreneurship was awarded to KovaDx, a powerful image analysis platform for the diagnosis of blood diseases. Created by Tim Adamson, PhD ‘23, and Yaw Ansong Jr., MD, MS. The platform uses cutting edge technologies such as quantitative phase imaging and deep learning to outperform current manual methods for diagnosis.

"We are so honored to be selected for this amazing prize, and for the opportunity that it provides us to complete our prototype and start testing our system in the real world,” Adamson said.

There were many outstanding student projects entered for consideration this year.

“The Wilson and Thorne prizes this year were filled with incredible ventures and hardworking and passionate leaders.,” said Fatema Basrai, assistant director of InnovateHealth Yale and innovation manager for the Sustainable Health Initiative.

“We wish we were able to award funding to all the teams! IHY looks forward to staying in contact with the entrepreneurs and supporting them in the future.”

To learn more about InnovateHealth Yale, visit IHY’s website.

Submitted by Denise Meyer on April 24, 2020