Grad Student Wins $15,000 Innovation Quest Award

Woman holding large check
Sara Della Ripa, a biomedical engineering graduate student, won $15,000 for her creation, the Massive Obstetric Hemorrhage Device, designed to predict symptoms of post-partum hemorrhaging. She hopes to invest the money, awarded during the 2018 Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Innovation Quest, into the device.

Knowing that postpartum hemorrhaging is the number one cause of maternal death worldwide, biomedical engineering graduate student Sara Della Ripa addressed the problem by creating the Massive Obstetric Hemorrhage Device, which won first place this spring in the 2018 Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Innovation Quest. CENG students received the top three honors in this year’s Innovation Quest. Della Ripa’s first place distinction came with a $15,000 award.

According to Mustang News, her device predicts postpartum hemorrhaging symptoms through a paper-based test of the blood’s ability to clot.

After a lot of exploration, she said, the idea for the device came to her. “Ms. Della Ripa’s work for InPress Technologies included fieldwork in Uganda and developing a medical device designed to treat postpartum hemorrhage,” said Thomas Katona, assistant professor of innovation and entrepreneurship in Cal Poly’s Biomedical Engineering Department. “During this work, she noticed a clear need for a device that could provide definitive early detection of postpartum hemorrhage to speed up the time for treatment to begin.” 

Innovation Quest, founded by Cal Poly graduates in 2003, is an annual competition that encourages innovators to pursue their ideas by providing award money to launch businesses.

Della Ripa, who presented her business idea to a judging panel, competed in a pool of 46 applicants and 13 finalists. With her award money, she plans to develop a proof of concept test by fall. And eventually, she said, her device will be available to save lives. “I have no doubts because I will pour my entire heart and soul into this.”

The $10,000 second place honor went to a team that developed Clove, a device that automatically grows and maintains up to 24 plants for culinary use with little to no user interaction. Clove was conceived by business administration seniors A.J. Gankhuyag and Kieran Scandrett; Alexander Decker, a mechanical engineering senior; and Aaron Quinn, a biomedical engineering senior.

The $5,000 third place prize went to Lost Coast Surf Tech, which designed the world’s best performing surfboard fin with smart tracking features integrated into a comprehensive mobile app. Graduate aerospace engineering majors Shaun Wixted and Brandon Baldovin developed the technology.