Medical startup wins marathon entrepreneur competition

Medical startup wins marathon entrepreneur competition

A shoe that can detect the development of Alzheimer's and dementia was the idea that won the QUT Creative Enterprise Australia (QUTCEA) Startup Weekend Creative Tech competition.

Solus Health, the six person team behind the ingenious idea, beat out a record number of 46 pitches to be crowned the winning startup.

The company, in the 54 hour marathon weekend competition, created a shoe sole with built in technology that when finalised would be able to detect changes in the gait of the wearer's feet which may help to identify the development of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's or dementia.

Brett Chenoweth, the chairman of QUTEA says it was not just the innovative idea that Solus Health created, but their dedication and passion that made them the winners of this year's competition.

"Most importantly, they [Solus Health] were incredibly passionate about what they were working on and they were passionate about not just winning the Startup Weekend but actually going on from there and doing more with it," says Chenoweth.

"The team that won called so many people and interviewed them. They talked to a hospital or two, they talked to doctors, and the fact that they went through a real product development cycle over the course of a weekend and were able to do that and do it professionally really made them stand out."

Solus Health project leader and co-founder, Dr Eduardo Jorgensen, says he was inspired to create a preventative measure to avoid the late diagnosis of those diseases and went to work conceptualising the device.

"As a medical student I discovered that the process of dementia assessment wasn't an easy process and very rarely yielded good results," says Jorgensen.

"I wanted to create a solution for an earlier assessment model.

"Diagnosis of dementia often happens far too late and at this stage there's often very little that can be done to stop it. An earlier diagnosis could mean access to support at crucial stages of the disease's development to encourage better outcomes for the patient."

Chenoweth says Solus Health was a definite standout among a collection of incredibly impressive pitches from the weekend, but stresses that the Weekend isn't about creating a new business; it's about the skills learnt under pressure.

"These sorts of weekends aren't about coming up with a new business model, it's really about the passion around an idea and seeing if you can productise that idea and at least do an initial bit of research and customer justification for it," says Chenoweth.

"Seeing events like Startup Weekend grow and evolve is the reason I joined the board as chair. It's a unique organisation that not only puts on events like this, but is an incubator, it develops and funds businesses too."

The winning reams across the weekend took home a prize pool of tech swag and in-kind services valued at more than $30,000 including business development services and major festival tickets.

Jorgensen says he can't wait to continue the work that began at the Startup Weekend with the Solus Health team.

"It's clear we're doing something important as people keep approaching us for information and investors have said that they're keen to follow up," says Jorgensen.

"It's a very exciting time."

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