University of Minnesota team named Distinguished Award Winner in Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE


Rhonda Zurn, College of Science and Engineering,, (612) 626-7959

University News Service,, (612) 624-5551

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (11/10/2014) — A team from the University of Minnesota has been selected as one of five Distinguished Award Prize winners, valued at $120,000, in the Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE, a global competition to develop breakthrough medical sensing technologies that will ultimately enable faster diagnoses and easier personal health monitoring.

The Golden Gopher Magnetic Biosensing Team has developed a handheld device, named “z-Lab,” that can detect a number of infections and health indicators with a single drop of blood or urine. The z-Lab sensor is designed to detect various ailments using disease indicators, or “biomarkers,” found in bodily fluids at the earliest stages of the disease, often when symptoms are not even present. A drop of fluid is placed on a small biochip (about 10 millimeters by 10 millimeters) and results of up to 10 health indicators are displayed within 15 minutes on a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device. The sensor can also be used for monitoring other factors that can impact one’s health, such as the mercury concentration in water.

“The high sensitivity of this device allows it to detect various ailments—including infections, heart disease and even cancer—faster, easier and earlier than ever before,” said Golden Gopher Magnetic Biosensing Team Leader Jian-Ping Wang, an electrical and computer engineering professor at the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering. “We see this as a prevention-based device that will ultimately save lives.”


The Golden Gopher Magnetic Biosensing Team includes professors and engineers from the University of Minnesota, doctors from the Mayo Clinic and several corporate partners, including Zepto Life Technology, Universal Magnetic Systems, R&D Systems, Vates and Jim Sawyer Professional Audio Service.

As part of this XPRIZE competition, Golden Gopher Magnetic Biosensing was matched up against teams from the United States, France, Switzerland and United Kingdom, all competing for a piece of the $2.25 million purse, as well as the growth and entrepreneurial resources offered by this prestigious prize. This is the second of two consecutive, separate competitions in the Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE.


Founded in 1995, XPRIZE is the leading organization solving the world’s Grand Challenges by creating and managing large-scale, high-profile, incentivized prizes in five areas: Learning; Exploration; Energy & Environment; Global Development; and Life Sciences. Active prizes include the $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE, the $15M Global Learning XPRIZE, the $10M Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE, the $2.25M Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE and the $2M Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE. For more information, visit