Drexel’s Medical Device Entrepreneurship Association, a new organization started in December 2013, aims to help biomedical engineering students network with local and national partners.
The Drexel organization is the third chapter to launch for the association, behind Georgia Institute of Technology and Northwestern University, and is working to connect biomedical engineering students with their counterparts at the LeBow College of Business, the Close School of Entrepreneurship and the Drexel University School of Law.
“The idea is … Philadelphia, and Drexel alone, has so many resources,” founder and association president Austin Sacks, a pre-junior biomedical engineering student, said. He added that students in research labs don’t have the opportunity to collaborate with other majors and that this is a unique type of entrepreneurship. Sacks observed that these intra-university collaborations fit with Drexel’s strategic plan of multidisciplinary learning.
“When you think of a [biomedical engineering] student many are being pushed to become entrepreneurs. In a university setting [for this major], there’s less than a one percent success rate for student-led ventures,” Sacks said. Drexel MDEA’s goal is to help biomedical students bridge the gap, specifically through networking, by hosting discussions and educational events, and by creating partnerships with other universities.
Vice President of Internal Relations Maxime Tremblay, a pre-junior biomedical engineering student, discussed how their guest speakers could show students what it’s like to be in the field. “It gives a perspective that is not really taught in school,” he said.
Sacks first considered the possibility of a biomedical association in 2012, but most of the work to get the group started at Drexel happened in 2013.
“[I first heard about the project] in 2012. Austin had this idea of an organization where we could work with professors in the field. I was interested in medical devices, so it was an easy [decision] for me to join,” Tremblay said.
According to Sacks, the Drexel branch hasn’t held general board meetings yet, but takes part in video calls with students at Georgia Tech and Northwestern. This communication allows the chapters to share ideas and contacts.
“Right now we’re basically … networking with faculty here and in other universities,” Tremblay said.
Sacks mentioned that the group was interested in hosting a roundtable of biomedical entrepreneurs after Georgia Tech held a similar event.
Drexel MDEA hopes to gain more exposure at the National Biomedical Engineering Honor Society, Alpha Eta Mu Beta, which will host Biomedical Engineering Week from May 19-23.
“Part of the week is devoted to start-up companies. We’ll be recruiting local entrepreneurs,” Sacks said. The association is also working with the University City Science Center. Another focus is creating relationships with biotechnology and medical device start-up companies, and prototype design centers.
MDEA is seeking members from all disciplines, including product design, marketing, finance, law and public health, in addition to biomedical engineering and entrepreneurship majors. The first board meeting will be held sometime in March, but dates have not been finalized.
For more information, interested individuals can visit drexel.gtmdea.org and sign up via DragonLink.