Student team successfully pitches biomedical innovation with commercialization potential

June 6, 2022 — A team of University of Minnesota graduate students — including two from the Department of Biomedical Engineering’s PhD program — won a competition that recognized the business potential of their MRI innovation.

They won the student division of Walleye Tank, a pitch competition hosted by the University of Minnesota Venture Center and the Mayo Clinic Office of Entrepreneurship. Inspired by the "Shark Tank” television show, emerging and established Minnesota life sciences startups pitch their innovation ideas to a panel of expert judges. 

BME PhD candidate Efraín Torres pitched the innovation on behalf of the team, which also includes BME PhD student Parker Jenkins as the technical lead, University of Minnesota MBA student Chuddy Emukah who supports business strategy, and mentor Berk Tas, CEO of SentiAR. Both Torres and Jenkins are advised by Prof. Michael Garwood.

Efrain Torres pitching his innovation to an expert panel
BME PhD candidate Efraín Torres pitches his team’s MRI innovation to a panel of judges at Walleye Tank.

The team is working to commercialize frequency-modulated Rabi-encoded echoes (FREE), a patent-pending approach that promises to cut the cost of an MRI by approximately 30 percent as well as make it silent and smaller.

Just weeks before the competition, the team received a $50,000 commercialization grant through the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program.