Needle-Free Suture Device Wins Business Plan Competition Division

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Advanced Suture Solution receives its award. Left to right, judge Samuel E. Feigin (Nixon Peabody LLP), Jin Xiao, Mark Kass (Nixon Peabody LLP), Sharon Liu, as Dean Chang (Technology Advancement Program and venture programs, Mtech).

Advanced Suture Device for Scarless Wound Healing (ASD), a startup company led by Fischell Department of Bioengineering (BioE) undergraduates Jin Xiao (double-major, mechanical engineering) and Sharon Liu (double-major, economics), received first place and $10,000 in the Undergraduate Division of the University of Maryland's 11th annual $75K Business Plan Competition, organized by the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech). ASD is advised by BioE professor Yang Tao and Dr. Leigh Vinocur, M.D. (UMD School of Medicine), and mentored by Jonathan Aberman (Amplifier Ventures) and Alex Murphy ( Inc.; founder, Long Tail Interactive).

In addition to the prize money, the young company is eligible for one free year in Mtech's TERP Startup Laboratory a program designed for entrepreneurs who need a place to quickly develop technology prototypes and get some help in launching their companies.

Xiao, who serves as ASD's CEO, has invented a wound closure product that could reduce or prevent the hypertrophy (swelling), keloid scars, and infections that are sometimes associated with the conventional stitching and stapling of surgical wounds or cuts. The system's noninvasive, needle-free technology also eliminates the needlestick injuries that healthcare workers sustain in approximately 19% of suture treatments annually, and prevents the transmission of diseases including hepatitis and HIV from patients to providers.

"It happens that the CDC [Centers for Disease Control] is calling for Prevention through Design (PtD) to reduce needlestick injuries [that]…have possibility of transmitting diseases," Xiao explains. "Each case can cost thousands of dollars for preventative care."

The product's design uses a combination of a flexible frame and sterile medical adhesives to gently draw the edges of an open wound together. The product's design allows for the tension to be on the device and healthy areas of skin, not the wound itself.

"We are extremely excited about winning," says Xiao. "With this prize money we can finally fund our next step, getting a full patent for the ASD. In the future, we hope to gather more prize money and grants and meet with angel investors to help us with bringing our device to market."

"Joining this competition was an amazing experience," says Liu, whom Xiao invited onto the team to help her commercialize the ASD. "I've never given a presentation in such a formal way and in front of so many people. I learned a lot."

Both Liu and Xiao have a personal interest in the device: Xiao doesn't like needles, and Liu had an allergic reaction to sutures after a routine surgery that left her with a scar.

Tikteb Solutions, another team with co-founders from BioE whose members include undergraduates Bernard Wong and Esmaeel Paryavi, was also a finalist in the Undergraduate Division. Tikteb designs web applications that can be used to improve the quality of writing through a crowd-sourced professional editing platform that helps non-professional writers commission freelance editing services.

The annual $75K Business Plan Competition promotes the commercialization of innovative ideas and University-created technologies by offering faculty, students, and alumni prizes for the best new venture plans. The competition emphasizes learning by offering one-on-one coaching for finalists, as well as the experience of presenting ideas to an experienced panel of judges. Companies active in the competition have generated millions in revenues, grants and awards.

For more information about the 2011 competition, teams, judges, sponsors and supporters see:

"Mtech Announces Winners of the 2011 University of Maryland $75K Business Plan Competition" (press release) »

BioE has maintained a strong presence in the competition over the past several years. For more information, see:

Published May 10, 2011