Epilepsy Foundation Brings Innovative Solutions to Market

Open Call for New Innovators to Pitch Ideas

Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Landover, Maryland —The Epilepsy Foundation today announced a call for entries to its 8th annual competition, where innovators pitch ideas for products, technologies or therapeutic concepts that will directly benefit people living with epilepsy. An initiative of the Foundation’s Epilepsy Therapy Project that was inspired by the television show “Shark Tank,” competition finalists will try to convince a panel of judges and the audience that their idea and business plan is worthy of an investment. New ideas can be submitted beginning September 28 until December 14, 2018. The Epilepsy Foundation will then select up to six finalists to pitch their innovation at the Anti-Epileptic Drug and Device Trials Conference in May 2019. The winners will use their prize to accelerate their innovation to the next phase of development and bring it closer to being accessible to people living with epilepsy. 
“We believe that a successful research environment is one where partnerships spur innovation and exciting discoveries to overcome the challenges of epilepsy and End Epilepsy,” said Brandy Fureman, Ph.D., vice president of research & new therapies, Epilepsy Foundation. “With that in mind, we began hosting the Shark Tank competition to fund technologies and therapeutic concepts that will benefit our epilepsy community. We look forward to reviewing this year’s entries and how they may benefit people with seizures.”
The Epilepsy Therapy Project is a research program that seeks to advance innovative ideas in epilepsy, seizure treatment and care in a timeframe that matters. Since 2006, the Foundation’s Epilepsy Therapy Project has invested more than $8.3 million in 90 different initiatives. This year alone, three innovative technologies the Foundation previously supported and has helped accelerate to market: 
  • Seizario, developed by then 13-year-old Amir Helmy, is a smartphone seizure and fall detection/alert system now available for Android devices. Helmy originally developed the prototype as his seventh-grade science project when he heard a family friend talk about the expensive monitoring equipment people with epilepsy had to rely on to monitor their seizures. Seizario offers automatic detection of several emergency scenarios through motion detection, as well as easy and immediate communication of critical information to family members and caregivers. Helmy presented the Seizario App at the 2014 Epilepsy Foundation Shark Tank competition and received $75,000 to make the app more user-friendly and fine-tune the detection algorithms. 
  • zEEG by Zeto, Inc., developed by Aswin Gunasekar and his team, can be used to perform a routine or urgent EEG (electroencephalogram) in any health care setting. The headset requires no skin preparation and uses dry electrodes that leave no residue behind. A full complement of 19 electrodes can be placed at the right location on the scalp within 5 minutes. Zeto was awarded $150,000 at the 2016 Epilepsy Foundation Shark Tank competition to improve the original design and software for clinical needs such as signal quality, comfort and convenience. In 2017, the Foundation provided further investment through its New Therapy Commercialization Grants program to assist in the manufacturing of device prototypes. zEEG by Zeto is the first wireless, dry-electrode EEG headset and cloud software platform approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for clinical use. Zeto will launch zEEG commercially in early 2019. 
  • Embrace by Empatica is a seizure-alerting smartwatch that received approval from the FDA earlier this year for use in identifying tonic-clonic seizures and sending alerts to caregivers. Embrace was developed by Rosalind Picard in 2007; the idea emerged from her work on sensors for kids that could detect stress measuring electrodermal activity (EDA). Picard, and a team from MIT, developed a prototype of a watch that monitored EDA levels and sent an alert to parents and caregivers when those levels indicated the child may be having a seizure. The team received early funding from the Foundation when it won the People’s Choice Award at the 2013 Epilepsy Foundation Shark Tank competition; the team later received $75,000 at the 2015 competition to upgrade Embrace’s hardware and software platforms and conduct further research. Through a crowd-funding partnership between Empatica and the Foundation in 2015-2016, more than 1,500 beta-version smartwatches were given to families in need. The data collected from this process led to further smartwatch improvements.
The Epilepsy Foundation’s Epilepsy Therapy Project supports more than 40 percent of the products being developed for epilepsy in the clinical pipeline. If you have an innovative solution that could transform the epilepsy community, you are encouraged to submit your letter of intent by December 14, 2018. Please email sharktank@efa.org for more information. 
About Epilepsy
According to the World Health Organization, epilepsy is the most common serious brain disorder worldwide with no age, racial, social class, national or geographic boundaries. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) estimates that 3.4 million people in the United States are affected by epilepsy. It is the underlying tendency of the brain to produce seizures which are sudden abnormal bursts of electrical energy that disrupt brain functions. 
About the Epilepsy Foundation
With a network of 50 partners throughout the United States, the Foundation connects people to treatment, support and resources; leads advocacy efforts; funds innovative research and the training of specialists; and educates the public about epilepsy and seizure first aid. For more than five decades, the Epilepsy Foundation has shone a light on epilepsy to promote awareness and understanding, and to advocate for laws that matter to people with epilepsy, while also funding $65 million for epilepsy research and supporting 3,076 epilepsy investigators and specialists in their early careers. Over the past 17 years, in partnership with the CDC, the Epilepsy Foundation has helped to improve access to care for people with epilepsy, expanded its digital reach and online resources in homes across the country, and trained more than 500,000 school and community personnel in how to recognize seizures and administer Seizure First Aid. The Foundation has also assisted more than 108,000 people through its 24/7 Helpline in the past five years, and continues to focus on innovation, new therapies, community services, advocacy and education as key priorities. To learn more visit epilepsy.com or call 800-332-1000. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Contact Name: 
Jackie Aker
Contact Phone: 
(310) 846-9272
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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.

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