Jordan Noe, an MD/PhD student, whose team MAC-BIO was a winner at the 2020 CardStart student innovation challenge. (photo courtesy Jordan Noe)
Jordan Noe, an MD/PhD student, whose team MAC-BIO was a winner at the 2020 CardStart student innovation challenge. (photo courtesy Jordan Noe)

University of Louisville student teams are building startups to improve healthcare, from making nurse workflow more efficient to thinking of new therapies for tumors — all in the course of a whirlwind virtual weekend.

It’s part of a new student-led UofL event called CardStart, that asks teams to create innovative solutions to health care problems and build startups around them in just 48 hours.

Judges selected three winning teams, each of which receive support to help them refine their ideas ahead of a finals competition in spring: 

  • MAC-BIO’s new cell-based therapy for the treatment of aggressive solid tumors. Team: Jordan Noe, MD/PhD student.
  • Mean Business, with a UofL research-born device to assess bone density for spinal surgery patented through the UofL Commercialization EPI-Center. Team: Krishawna Dupin, Stephanie Frank, Michelle Anderson and Alex Godfrey, all Innovation MBA students. 
  • Mend Corp’s software that uses machine learning to optimize nurse workflow. Team: Noah Wilding, electrical engineering student, and Katya Kovatsenko and Shah Tarun, both bioengineering students. 

Each winning team receives mentorship and coaching, modest funding to develop their prototype and free registration (an $895+ value) for the 2021 spring cohort of LaunchIt, UofL’s 10-week entrepreneurial training boot camp. CardStart is backed by the UofL Office of Research and InnovationForcht Center for Entrepreneurship and the Louisville Healthcare CEO Council.

“This event really helped us create a foundation of how a start-up company actually starts up,” said Tarun, of the Mend Corp team. “That weekend felt quite long and short at the same time, but the overall results really got us by surprise. Mend Corp’s next aim is to procure the solution that we had presented for CardStart for our enigma of a problem.”

Students worked on their ideas in between a jam-packed schedule of keynotes, coaching and workshops led by real-life founders and other experts, including Liberate Medical’s Angus McLachlan, UofL’s Entrepreneurs-in-Residence and CardStart’s faculty mentors, Mary Tapolsky, of business, and Tommy Roussel, of engineering.

Samantha Morrissey, a medical student and member of the CardStart student organizing committee, said the event is meant to encourage students to think outside the box and gain hands-on experience innovating. 

“This is a great and unique event at UofL that affords students the opportunity and possible financial support to explore entrepreneurship,” she said. “We want students to get creative and transform their ideas into real world technologies that could ultimately be developed into their very own startup.”