The Conductor

Applications Open for Fourth-Year of Award-Winning Health Sciences Entrepreneurship Boot Camp

Conductor, UAMS, BioVentures and Arkansas INBRE collaborate to host boot camp for undergraduates around the state.

CONWAY—Conductor, BioVentures, UAMS, and Arkansas INBRE are collaborating for the fourth year to host a weeklong camp for undergraduate and graduate students from across the state. The camp is an intensive program that focuses on catalyzing innovative ways to solve problems in healthcare and equips the students with the knowledge and resources to start and fund their own health science venture. The program won an Innovations in Research and Research Education Award in 2018 from the Association of American Medical Colleges and has worked with dozens of students to prepare them for post-graduate careers or to start their own healthcare company.

“The outcomes we have seen from the program speak for themselves,” said Nancy Gray, Ph.D., President of BioVentures. “Sixty-nine students representing fifteen different colleges and universities have completed the program and we are thrilled to provide this opportunity for Arkansas students again in 2020 to provide them with the resources to create the next big idea in healthcare innovation”.

The camp will be hosted at the University of Central Arkansas campus. Over the course of 5 days, students from universities and colleges around the state will experience hands-on training in venture creation, intellectual property and patent filing, building an entrepreneurial team, funding a venture, and more. In addition, the curriculum includes aspects of leadership development, customer discovery, networking with industry experts, and team building amongst the student venture teams.

“The camp empowers students to find a problem, specific to the healthcare community, gather credible facts and customer discovery to validate that problem, and then based on that information, solve that problem in an innovative way.” said Jeff Standridge, Managing Director at Conductor, “We get to see students think critically, gain hands-on experience, and solve problems and it is changing the thought processes, lives, and career paths of students across the state.”

At the 2019 camp, the ideas ranged from a company to connect community hospitals to health care companies for pilot studies to a service to customize electronic health records to individual users. The winning team, PAKI (Prediction of Acute Kidney Injury) Solutions proposed a new service using software in hospital computer systems to identify early patients at risk for kidney injury and to take steps to prevent that injury from occurring. The winning team members were Selom Ayawovi Ametepe, a student at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Mahanaz Syed, a UAMS student, and Bhavya Patel, a student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

“My experience at the Boot Camp really required stepping out of my comfort zone and learning how to network with business leaders,” said Ms. Patel. “The camp teaches you how to work collaboratively with people from diverse backgrounds and experiences to solve problems facing the healthcare industry.”

Boot Camp alumni have received numerous awards in entrepreneurship and many have changed career paths and/or pursued entrepreneurial initiatives as a result of the camp. Two student teams that graduated from the 2017 camp went on to compete in the 2017 Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup collegiate business plan competition. One team won the first-place prize of $25,000, and the other won the Undergraduate Innovation Award at the competition. Overall, four alumni have established new healthcare startup companies in Arkansas. An alumni team also participated in the Regional I-Corps program in Austin, TX, following the Boot Camp.

Students at the camp work closely with mentors and subject matter experts from the University of Central Arkansas, UAMS, and the business and entrepreneurship community. Additionally, Conway Regional Health System invites the students to come into the hospital and conduct actual customer discovery and research during the problem identification portion of the Boot Camp. The students are given access to nearly 70 mentors and experts throughout the course of the week.

“We work to cultivate a group of mentors from a variety of backgrounds to provide different perspectives to the students. But also to build their networks with a diverse group of leaders from across the state that can be utilized to help propel their ideas and their careers,” said Grace Rains, Director of Operations at the Conductor.

The boot camp will be held May 17-22 at the University of Central Arkansas. The lodging, food, and programming are free for accepted students and are funded through UAMS, BioVentures and the Conductor. Students are accepted from a diversity of backgrounds and majors. Eligible students must have an interest in healthcare, complete at least their sophomore year of college at the time of the camp, and be a student from an Arkansas college or university. Space permitting, spots may be available for immediate graduates and graduate students.

The week-long camp will conclude with a Demo Day on May 22, during which the public is invited to watch the teams present their new venture ideas.

The application period begins on December 4, 2019, and candidates may find more information and apply at www.arconductor.org/bootcamp. The early consideration deadline for the Camp is Friday, February 28, 2020. All other applications are due by Friday, March 27, 2020.

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