Inaugural AppItUP Challenge nets six new prototypes

Penn’s Center for Technology Transfer and its company-formation program, UPstart, launched an ambitious contest in September, aimed to gather the best mobile application ideas from throughout the University community. By partnering with local software development companies that promised to take the top five submissions into the prototype stage, the AppItUP Challenge was able to gather 185 ideas from 11 of Penn’s 12 schools.

The winners were selected at a November ceremony. The submissions were so promising that one of the developers volunteered to take on a second app, raising the total to six.

Development firm Kanda Soft picked “Anaphylaxis 911,” an app proposed by Penn Medicine’s David Edwards and Rachel Edwards. Users with severe allergies would program the app with their medical information. If they were at risk of going into anaphylactic shock, users could press a button that would send that information, along with their current location, to 911. The information, as well as care instructions, would be easily accessible to first-responders, whether they are professionals or simply bystanders.

“Beans,” described as “Pandora for coffee,” is the brainchild of PennDesign grad students Sascha Hughes-Caley and Rahul Jindal. The app, which would connect consumers to smaller coffee roasters based on their taste preferences, will be developed by Valex Consulting.

Valex also volunteered to develop another app, suggested by Peter Meany and Vinay Nadkarni of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Their “Survive Under 5” app will provide healthcare workers in rural areas with up-to-date information on preventing and treating the most common causes of infant mortality: diarrhea, sepsis, and pneumonia.

“Drug Verifier,” proposed by Wharton undergrad Titilayo Oshinaya, will be developed by Chariot Solutions. This app aims to use QR codes and text messaging to help doctors in the developing world make sure the drugs they are using aren’t counterfeit.   

Sempercon fought for the right to develop the “Point-of-care digital application for post-cardiac arrest targeted temperature management.” Though it has yet to settle on a snappy name, this idea from Penn Medicine’s Benjamin Abella, Audrey Blewer, and Marion Leary Benjamin was a hot commodity, as it proposes to act as a resource for doctors and nurses who are performing CPR.

Finally, “Wish.List,” from Wharton grad student Vikram Madan, would make use of a smartphone’s camera to scan product barcodes, automatically adding them to a social-media friendly list so users or their friends can purchase them later. It will be developed by Excellis.

"Turning these ideas into prototypes isn’t the end,” says Karina Sotnik, AppItUP’s program director. “Our goal is to build successful companies based on the winning ideas, and to fast track them into development. We will be inviting the finalists to our annual UPstart conference in April and awarding a grant prize of $15,000 to the best prototype and strategy.”