Epilepsy Foundation Awards $200,000 at ‘Shark Tank’ Competition for Innovative Products to Help People Living with Seizures

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| Source: Epilepsy Foundation

LANDOVER, Md., May 31, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Epilepsy Foundation announced the winners of the 2017 Shark Tank competition for innovative ideas in epilepsy and seizure treatment and care on May 18, 2017, at the Antiepileptic Drug and Device (AEDD) Trials XIV Conference in Miami, Florida. Winners will use this award money to accelerate their ideas toward development and bring their projects to people living with seizures and epilepsy in a time frame that matters.

"The Shark Tank competition is always an exciting segment at the AEDD conference, and this year was no exception. We saw six innovators from around the world present their ideas to our Shark Tank panel of judges and the audience,” said Dr. Kathleen Farrell MB, BCh, BAO, senior program manager for clinical research at the Epilepsy Foundation. “The Epilepsy Foundation was honored to invite these forward-thinking individuals to showcase their ideas, and we hope their creativity and drive inspires others to pursue advances in epilepsy diagnosis and therapeutics.”

In total, 24 individuals or teams entered the competition from across the United States and 7 countries across the world. Shark Tank judges and the audience awarded three projects a total of $200,000 in prize money. The winners are:

  • Jonas Duun-Henriksen PhD, senior scientific researcher at UNEEG medical A/S: 24/7 Portable, ultra-long term EEG Recording device won $75,000 in the audience vote for the People’s Choice Award.
  • Maysaa Basha MD, associate professor in the department of neurology at Wayne State University School of Medicine: The Sound of Seizures: Auto-triggered seizure detection won $75,000 awarded by the judges.
  • Paula Gomez PhD, CEO of Epistemic, and Hilda A. Cerdeira PhD, fellow of the America Physical Society: Device for epileptic seizure prediction won $50,000 awarded by the judges.

“We are very excited that we have been granted this opportunity by the Epilepsy Foundation,” Basha said. “We are ready to put in the work to move this project forward with the ultimate goal of improving quality of life of patients with seizures and their caregivers through improved seizure detection.”

Duun-Henriksen said, “We are extremely happy to be awarded the People’s Choice Award. The backing by the Epilepsy Foundation encourages us to continue and strengthen our efforts within epilepsy. The prize will allow us to develop specific applications that can benefit the patients and their caregivers. We look forward to bringing the 24/7 EEG™ SubQ to the market within the next year and to starting collaborative investigations with the eminent scientists of the society.”

“This is the second time we participated in the Shark Tank Award. It’s a great experience, with the best professionals in the area to network with and where we received insightful feedback about our project,” said Gomez and Cerdeira in a joint statement. “This feedback helped us improve our prediction software and device and allowed us to participate a second time. Winning the Shark Tank Award is an honor, a recognition of our hard work and how our project can help people with epilepsy. We thank the Epilepsy Foundation. The prize will help us with clinical trials, and with recognition among investors.” The pair were finalists in 2015.

The remaining Shark Tank finalists received a $5,000 award. They include:

  • Robert Yao PhD, founder and CEO of EpiFinder, Inc., and Neel Mehta, chief strategy officer, EpiFinder, Inc.: EpiFinder— A Clinical Decision Support Tool for Epilepsy Diagnosis
  • John R. Terry, professor of biomedical modelling at the University of Exeter and director of the EPSRC Centre for Predictive Modelling in Healthcare, and Wessel Woldman PhD, MRC Skills Development research fellow, College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter: BioEp: Diagnosing epilepsy without observing seizures
  • Heidi Grabenstatter PhD, senior research associate, University of Colorado Boulder: Neurology Patient Initiative: Patient-Driven Open Innovation

The 2017 Shark Tank judges represented industry leaders, physicians and researchers, and parents of people with epilepsy. Sharks included Emilio Perucco MD, PhD, professor of medical pharmacology, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy; Nathan Fountain MD, professor of neurology, University of Virginia; Ms. Hetty Weinstein, parent of a person living with epilepsy; Nancy Santilli NP, MSN, FAAN, consultant and global managing director, Humane Scare Systems; and Tom Stanton, executive director of the Danny Did Foundation.

The next Shark Tank Competition will be held at the 2018 Epilepsy Foundation Pipeline Conference in San Francisco, California. The program for submissions will open July 28, 2017.

The Epilepsy Foundation extends its congratulations to all winners and finalists.

About Epilepsy 
When a person has two unprovoked seizures or one unprovoked seizure with the likelihood of more, they are considered to have epilepsy. (An unprovoked seizure is one that occurs for no known reason.) Epilepsy affects 3 million people in the U.S. and 65 million worldwide. This year, another 150,000 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy. Despite all available treatments, at least 3 out of 10 people with epilepsy continue to experience uncontrolled seizures while many more experience less than optimal seizure control.

About the Epilepsy Foundation 
The Epilepsy Foundation, a national non-profit with nearly 50 local organizations throughout the U.S., has led the fight against seizures since 1968. The Foundation is an unwavering ally for individuals and families impacted by epilepsy and seizures. The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives. The Foundation works to ensure that people with seizures have the opportunity to live their lives to their fullest potential. For additional information, please visit epilepsy.com

“Like” the Epilepsy Foundation on Facebook at facebook.com/epilepsyfoundationofamerica. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/epilepsyfdn.

Contact Name: Liz Brasington 
Contact Phone: 301-918-3783 
Contact Email: ebrasington@efa.org