Q&A with Last Year's Innovations Pitch Competition Winner

Posted 4 May 2023

Since 2018, ASTMH has hosted the Innovations Pitch Competition at its Annual Meeting. The competition is a TED Talk-style, rapid-pitch session held in front of a live audience. Five finalists are selected to pitch their innovative ideas for a monetary prize. Each competition year has a specific focus.
Last year’s competition focused on global health and equity. The Grand Prize Winner, Subrahmanyam Prasad Muddam, founder, CEO and Chief Industrial Designer of Heamac Healthcare Pvt. Ltd., Hyderabad, Telangana State, India, was awarded a patent recently for his entry, nLite360® An Intelligent Phototherapy System for Neonatal Jaundice.
Mr. Muddam graciously answered a few questions about his experience.
What is your patent for? How does the patent relate to what you pitched for the Innovations Pitch Competition?
We are a medtech startup company, an offshoot of the Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad, India. We have our company Heamac Healthcare, an acronym of HEAling MAChines, which is a design-driven medical device company dealing with designing and developing empathetic and user-centric medical devices catering to newborn and maternal health. We are currently developing our first product nLite360®, an advanced and smart phototherapy system for jaundice neonates. We have been granted an Indian patent for our product with the title “PHOTOTHERAPY APPARATUS AND KIT,” patent number 425250. This patent defines that our device and technology are unique, irrespective of the existing predicate devices, and is also a testament to our innovation.
How did your experience at the Innovations Pitch Competition help and/or prepare you for applying for a patent?
Winning the Innovations Pitch Competition has made us believe that there is support for better technology and new innovations. It helped us ensure that the sky is the limit if we strive and put in consistent efforts. Thus, winning a global competition like the Innovations Pitch Competition—competing with our fellow startups all around the world—motivated us to put extra effort in every task we do. This helped us achieve each milestone we set in a more quick and efficient manner. Although we applied for the patent before applying for ASTMH, from the feedback from mentors of ASTMH, we understood that getting a patent is an important step to prove our product's uniqueness and innovation. Thus, we have continued putting efforts into getting the patent approved by adding all the features that are incorporated in the latest version of our device and have coordinated with our patent attorney to get the patent granted. 
Where do you plan to take your work/research from here?
We are a medtech startup company with a vision of being a global leader in the neonatal space. We are currently heading toward the launch of our first product, nLite360® into the Indian market. We are planning to launch multiple versions of our product targeting the diversified target segments we have. Our short-term goal is to standardize phototherapy across the globe so that all babies get the right amount of care and treatment. We are currently launching the basic version of our idea. Our current version requires the initial and basic intervention of the doctor, while we are planning to completely automize phototherapy by using a non-invasive intelligent algorithm to revolutionize Phototherapy Treatment.
What advice would you give to others interested in entering the Innovations Pitch Competition?
This is a great platform for anyone with an innovative idea. All that matters in this competition is the uniqueness of the idea and the impact it can create when the idea is brought to life. Another important aspect of winning the pitch competition is the stage of the product. We have to be in a market-ready stage or nearing the market launch stage. It is also important how we present our idea because we, as an innovator, will have a complete understanding of our idea, our long-term vision and the impact it creates. Getting a chance to participate in the competition itself will open new doors and opportunities for expanding startups, and winning it will be a key turning point for any company’s growth.