Opiate detection innovation startup wins $10K02/20/2020
Tanmay Jain and Amal Narayanan, Ph.D. candidates in the Department of Polymer Science, won the grand prize at the University of Akron’s (UA) $10,000 Startup Challenge for their company ProfProtects, which produces wipes that can instantaneously change color when in contact with opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanil. These wipes are designed to warn first responders to the presence of lethal narcotics.
Jain and Narayanan are students of Abraham Joy, Ph.D., associate professor of polymer science. Joy is creating a polymer-based wipe that can detect traces of opiate residue, giving first responders at the scene of an overdose a quick indication of the presence of an opioid in the vicinity, which will allow them to take appropriate precautions. The polymer wipes, called OPI-Wipes, are simple and intuitive to use, give instantaneous results, require no additional equipment, and are designed to be low cost (~$10). The OPI-Wipes instantaneously change color from orange to dark-blue, indicating the presence of opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanil.
Last year Joy received a $200,000 prize from the state of Ohio’s Third Frontier Commission as part of its Opioid Technology Challenge to develop the product. Early prototypes are simple strips about the size of a Post-it note. Joy intends to provide these wipes to every first responder in Ohio in the next few months to improve their safety and ease their minds when handling potentially lethal opioids.
The $10,000 Startup Challenge was held at Bounce Innovation Hub on Nov. 21, hosted by the University’s EX[L] Center. The keynote speaker was Patrick Finley, a trustee of the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, and founder and chairman of VITALIA Senior Residencies. The judging panel included Bernard Coleman, global head of inclusive engagement at Uber. UA recently won the Burton D. Morgan Foundation’s Changemaker Grant, which supports programs, projects, and research efforts that address gaps in collegiate entrepreneurship in an innovative way.
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