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Bigger things ahead for past Boeing Patent Challenge winners

April 6, 2016
Arch Grants

What do you get when you cross a WashU law student, architecture student, medical student, and physics student?

An Arch Grant finalist team.

Chris Weber, Fei Xie, Michael Wong, and Maneesh Jey make up the founding team for SpectraServe, a venture using Hyperspectral Imaging technology (HSI) to help surgeons differentiate between cancerous and noncancerous cells. Tomorrow, April 7th, they compete in the Arch Grant Finals, where they will pitch their venture for a chance at winning $50,000.

The team formed last August through Skandalaris Center’s Boeing Patent Challenge. “We all happened to sit at the same table, and quickly found that we had a common background, as well as a diverse and complementary set of skills,” says Jey, the team’s technology lead and a Ph.D candidate in Physics. They went on to win the competition the following December.

The Boeing Patent Challenge is a recent partnership between the Skandalaris Center and Boeing. The challenge allows teams of WashU grads and undergrads to pick from 50 categories of Boeing patents. They then translate the technology of their chosen patent to an entirely new use and develop a viable venture concept around the idea.

The one catch? Teams must have representation from a minimum of 3 different schools. Though meeting students from other disciplines and schools may not be an instinctive or easy option, SpectraServe sees their team diversity as their biggest strength. Wong, the team’s marketing lead and a medical student, explained that the team’s backgrounds and interests are rather harmonious, “[Each of our backgrounds] helped us systematically approach some of the challenges that came up and prepare for questions that we would have to face in the future.”

Tomorrow may be a big day for SpectraServe (they are also participating in the Skandalaris Center Cup), but they are ready to keep moving forward. “As soon as we have funding, we’ll get our hands dirty and start developing and testing a prototype that will show investors and customers alike the potential of HSI technology,” Jey commented, “We’re all very excited to take that next step!”

Follow SpectraServe’s progress on Facebook and Twitter.