Team led by Indian American wins MIT Prize for new cost-effective ventilator

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has announced in a school report that the Indian American-led team Umbulizer was named as the winner of the Sloan Healthcare Innovations Prize competition.

Umbulizer, led by founders Shaheer Piracha and Harvard Medical School student Sanchay Gupta; as well as MIT alumni Moiz Imam and Abdurrahman Akkas; MIT mechanical engineering student Wasay Answer; Boston University student Rohan Jadeja; and Farzan Khan, was selected over the seven other inventions pitched at the finals of the competition.

The student team of Umbulizer won $20,000 to help fund the clinical trial for their device they claim can help 90 percent of patients struggling to breathe, at a fraction of the cost of traditional ventilators, the MIT report said.

The event, which is open to entrepreneurial students from Boston-area colleges and universities, featured eight finalist teams pitching their health care innovations to a group of judges and a packed audience at MIT Sloan’s Wong Auditorium, it said.

Piracha and Gupta gave the winning pitch for the Umbulizer team, according to the report.

Umbulizer’s device will cost around $2,000 compared to the $15,000 price tag of regular ventilators. The key to the team’s cost savings is its decision to focus on providing the four most common functions of ventilators with the device.

Machine ventilators are typically designed to perform 15 different functions, many of which are rarely needed to save a life, Piracha told the audience, the MIT report added.

A little over 40 teams applied to this year’s competition, but only eight teams earned the right to pitch in the finals. Each team had five minutes to give their presentations, which were judged based on five categories including the solution’s impact, novelty, market opportunity, feasibility, and traction.

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