November 20, 2012

Accelerate Funds Five

L to R: Gregory Affsa, Industrial Design; Benjamin Nadeau, Biomedical Engineering; Arielle Herold, Business Management; Kathryn Belkin, Electromechanical Engineering

Wentworth’s second iteration of Accelerate—the student innovation and entrepreneurship challenge—announced its funded teams on Tuesday, with five teams awarded a total of $25,500. Funded teams included Gentoo ($10,000), Simply Stored ($6,000), Jimmy ($5,000), S-thetic ($3,000), and SmartPump ($1,500).

The awards came just a few days after entrepreneurs made their case for capital at a “Pitchfest” in Beatty Hall on Friday, November 16. The event featured 15 student teams pitching ideas from portable backpack speakers to a high-tech insulin pump to a four-judge panel.

The concept for Gentoo team’s device, a “Portable Infusion Harness,” began when Kathryn Belkin saw the all of the bags and devices her aunt—who is battling colon cancer—had to carry with her as part of her chemotherapy regimen. When designing a product that would offer more mobility, the team took inspiration from the police holster. “We thought ‘Who else has to work while carrying lots of things?’” said team member Gregory Affsa. “It seemed like a natural fit.”

Members of the Gentoo team were also aided by some outside counsel: Theresa O’Keefe, a biotech veteran and chief science officer at Waltham’s Pharma-Cycle, Inc. She was impressed with their idea immediately after meeting the group, and had some quick advice about protecting it. “I walked in, saw what they were doing, and said, ‘You have to get a provisional patent,'” said O’Keefe. Beyond the good idea, though, O’Keefe says it was obvious that their success had a good deal to do with their ability to collaborate. “They really work as a team—each one offering something to the project.”

© Wentworth Institute of Technology   |   550 Huntington Avenue   |   Boston, MA 02115   |   617-989-4590