I-Corps Alumni Wins Clinton Foundation’s 2021 Social Innovation Challenge
Vita Innovations, a Cornell University student startup, and alumni team from the May 2020 I-Corps Regional Course hosted by Cornell University, has been gaining attention for its innovative medical technology, VitalMask. The startup is working to reduce the consequences of emergency room overcrowding by developing a smart mask that continuously monitors waiting patient’s vitals and alerts medical personnel to emergencies.
Most recently, the company was announced as a winner of the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) 2021 Social Innovation Challenge. Sponsored by the Clinton Foundation and Verizon, the Social Innovation Challenge supports students worldwide who have made “Commitments to Action” to address pressing global issues with entrepreneurial training, mentorship, and seed funding.
Vita Innovations is currently comprised of CEO, Longsha Liu ’20; CFO, Julia Isakov ’21; Chief Design Officer, Kristen Ong ’21; and team members, Ray Wei ’21, Daniel Stabile ’21, Sarah Luo ’20, and Borna Naderi ’22. Liu was recently featured in Syracuse.com’s weekly “Conversations on Leadership,” where he shared that he was inspired to create VitalMask after witnessing emergency room overcrowding firsthand while volunteering.
“Sometimes patients end up waiting four to 12 hours without monitoring. During this time, symptoms can worsen. Assuming the hospital has a resource, a nurse will monitor or check up on those waiting patients once an hour or once every other hour. That’s not enough for a continual progression. What happens is that there are long-lasting morbidities or mortalities as a result of unnoticed clinical deterioration that we need to care about,” he told Syracuse.com.
Vita Innovations was one of 14 teams selected for the CGI U 2021 Social Innovation Challenge in May 2021. Selected teams received grant funding and hands-on entrepreneurial training from the program’s startup accelerator partner, VentureWell. At the end of the program, the teams had the opportunity to pitch their solutions for a chance to win an additional $20,000 in seed funding and sponsorship in continued programming from VentureWell. Vita Innovations was one of the winning teams announced by Chelsea Clinton last month.
Liu credited several programs that have been critical to Vita Innovations’ success, including the National Science Foundation, and referenced two mentors who are also UNY I-Corps regional instructors.
“Beth Xie [Read UNY I-Corps’ Mentor Spotlight on Beth Xie] in the Cornell network is another mentor. Anytime I need help, I can turn to her. If I have a question, she’s like, let’s hop on a call and then we get it addressed,” he said. “Dave Eilers is inside the SUNY program. Like Beth, he’s always been there for me and for the team, and I’m really grateful to all of them. The list could go on – there are so many people.”