The spring 2020 Walleye Tank has official found its school of fish. The life science pitch competition (from the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic officially announced the 15 applicants that have been selected to present during the virtual event on May 15. Each presenter was chosen to spotlight their effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s the lineup (* denotes a connection to the U of M):

  • Q-Rounds
  • Lead For Minnesota (training COVID-19 tracers)
  • RoundtableRx*
  • UMN Aerosol Hood Team*
  • Mobility 4 All, GBC
  • University of Minnesota Genomics Center*
  • SafeDistance.org*
  • Thermal DX LLC
  • In-Control Technologies LLC
  • Breathe99
  • SCONE team
  • Checkable Medical Inc.
  • Sprout MN
  • RespirVent
  • University of Minnesota*

According to Kevin Coss, Communication Specialists of the Office of the Vice President for Research at the U of M, more than 300 people have already registered  to attend the event. Tickets are free and registration is still open.

A full description of the problem each presenter is addressing (as provided by the presenters) is below.

Q-Rounds

“The shortage of PPE and how infectious the virus is have changed how hospital providers are able to round on their patients. Some programs have begun virtual visits with inpatients, but the logistics of coordinating these processes aren’t efficient. Q-Rounds streamlines the connection of providers, patients and their families.”

Lead For Minnesota (training COVID-19 tracers)

“We are addressing the workforce challenges that have arisen from COVID-19, matching talent to fill a localized COVID-response workforce, while also deploying national service as a pathway for economic relief and long-term community rebuilding post-COVID-19 across the state.”

RoundtableRx*

“Medications are inaccessible to some patients because of their cost, but many medications are wasted. RoundtableRx expands the medication base for organizations serving highly vulnerable populations and reduces community health care costs.”

UMN Aerosol Hood Team*

“Highly transmissible infections create challenges for the management of patients. With capacity and availability challenges around PPE and other equipment due to COVID-19, Aerosol Hood Team has a portable device to create a barrier between the health care provider and the patient.”

Mobility 4 All, GBC

“Mobility 4 All, GBC (MO) empowers seniors to lead more independent and full lives through our safer, kinder, personalized ride service. Through our Customer Service Center and tech-enabled platform, we match riders who need a higher level of service with fully vetted and trained CareDrivers. To help seniors, a population particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, we have pivoted to doing food and prescription deliveries for older adults aging in place to support social distancing and reduce their exposure to the coronavirus.”

University of Minnesota Genomics Center*

“The University of Minnesota Genomics Center has been part of the team that has spun up COVID-19 clinical diagnostic testing at the University of Minnesota. We have also been developing methods for sequencing the genome of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.”

SafeDistance.org*

“SafeDistance.org is a new approach to COVID-19 symptom tracking that anonymously aggregates crowdsourced symptoms to the neighborhood level. This helps address several problems:
1. Citizens don’t have clear actionable information about what they should be doing as an individual and what they should do as a community
2. Public Health Officials need more data to be able to target resources like testing
3. Public Health Officials need more data but also need to protect the individual’s privacy
4. Researchers need better data to help detect, predict, and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Thermal DX LLC

“Clinical tests for COVID-19 are too slow, invasive, and costly for widespread use. By contrast, automated temperature screening allows organizations to quickly detect a fever—significantly cutting the risk of spreading infection. Automated screening using thermal imaging reduces a need for front-line personnel and personal protective equipment (PPE). However, many existing thermal imaging technologies are repurposed off-the-shelf systems that were never designed for this task and have poor accuracy. With FeverInspect, the Thermal DX team has developed the most cost-effective automated thermal imaging-based system for detecting fevers that is accurate and reliable in real-world conditions.”

In-Control Technologies LLC

“The restaurant and bar industries are deeply affected by stay-at-home orders intended to curb the spread of COVID-19. Business normalcy can only return once consumer confidence returns, which many experts suggest requires a large portion of the population to first be vaccinated by tried and proven vaccines. The transition from stay-at-home to normalcy could be a long time. During that time, it is anticipated face masks must be worn while in public areas. Most people will not comply in restaurants and bars after their food and drink are served as it is too arduous to constantly put on and take off regular masks or home-made masks while eating and drinking.

Consequently, it is envisioned there will be unique rules for restaurants and bars where limited use of face masks might be perceived as acceptable by some of the public. These unique rules could be limits to occupancy or outside service only. Neither brings sufficient financial relief to many businesses nor are they inclusive to all. Based on our polling, we believe consumer confidence (and resulting turnout) would be much greater if face masks are required and actually worn nearly the entire time while at an establishment, if possible.”

Breathe99

“Breathe99 is solving the supply chain issue plaguing the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) sector.”

Checkable Medical Inc.

“We are addressing the COVID-19 challenges of a Diagnostics and Tracking (testing management tool) for employers as well as diagnostics for consumers. We are providing information and peace of mind to help individuals navigate their day-to-day in the midst of the pandemic. We are equipping stakeholders in the fight against COVID-19 by:

  • Easing the burden on the already constrained health care system by deploying COVID-19 tests through out-of-hospital channels
  • Equipping employers with the ability to screen and test employees, allowing them to safely return to work
  • Providing testing and screening reports to government officials & public health experts to help them make swift decisions around managing their populations and economies”

Sprout MN

“Though we are feeling unprecedented tension on many of our systems, we are also witnessing a resounding validation of how important local foods are to resilient communities. Our small but mighty team has the agility to pivot according to changing market channels and fill the gaps the industrial food chain has exposed in this critical time.

“Gaps in the food chain at this time include empty market channels due to schools being closed, restaurants that cannot serve patrons, and hospital systems that are helping to feed frontline health care workers across numerous sectors. All of these market channels have dried up during this pandemic. Additionally, as we move into warmer weather, the future of farmer’s markets and the comfort level of its patrons to attend is not known at this time. The same applies to restaurants—when we are able to congregate, it is unknown how people experience a comfort level that allows them to patronize local establishments.”

University of Minnesota*

“There is a lack of information about the air transmission potential of COVID-19 caused by normal human breathing and speaking. It is critical that we understand the transmission pathways of COVID-19 to assist the design of social distancing and other prevention measures.”