In 2012, LUNAR Design, now part of McKinsey Design, in conjunction with Stanford Biodesign, created the Robert Howard Next Step award in memory of our friend and colleague, Robert Howard. Robert had an affinity for the program and donated his time to help teams get their ideas to market. The award is a gift of roughly 200 consulting hours to a Biodesign team that has an exceptional idea for addressing an important clinical need—and who can benefit from our capabilities in design, whether user-centered research to sharpen the value proposition, product design to embody the idea or development engineering to prove technical feasibility.
Since that time, we have worked with 10 Biodesign teams to get their medtech solutions to the next step of commercialization. Some of the past winners include, Tueo Health, who are in clinical trials with their pediatric asthma monitor and Palmm, who joined the Fogarty Institute and just last month received a Coulter Grant—for creating an at-home therapy to treat hyper-hydrosis or excessive sweating. Also, Barostitch—who joined the Fogarty Institute and won the J&J Quickfire challenge—with a better way to stitch up arteries after surgery. We’ve been very proud to have been involved with all 10 amazing teams and ingenious innovations.
This year we decided to select one team in order to be able to focus our pro bono activities in a way that will create more impact. Meet, Earbuddy. EarBuddy has developed a proof-of-concept device that non-invasively addresses a common ear disease in young children. EarBuddy is a device that helps ventilate children’s middle ears as they swallow, treating a condition called Otitis Media with Effusion (OME), or “glue ear.” Currently this condition is often treated with “Ear tubes” and this device has the potential to reduce the need for this common procedure. We congratulate the team including Doug Sidell, Jozef Bartunek, Peter Santa Maria, Matt Oldakowski, and Cuneyt Alper. Stay tuned to follow Earbuddy’s development journey!