Announcement of the 4th Patient Innovation Awards Winners

Patient Innovation Newsletter #16
Patient Innovation Newsletter #16, November 2019

Announcement of the
4th Patient Innovation Awards Winners


Patient Innovation (PI) empowers patients, caregivers, and collaborators by giving them a place where they can share their solutions. The PI Awards have been established to celebrate the innovators from our community who stood out with the impact and novelty of their solutions. Our goal is to reward the ones who, although suffering, find the strength to overcome their health problems and innovate. That’s what is inspiring us all. We selected four innovators for the 4th edition of PI Awards. They win the laurels for innovating, sharing and improving lives while facing adversity and challenges.

Warm congratulations to all winners.
We’re proud of you.

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And the winners are...

Kavita Krishnaswamy (India & USA)




Spinal muscular atrophy


Robotic mattress

Kavita Krishnaswamy

Kavita is an Indian-American who suffers from spinal muscular atrophy. She believes disabled people should be able to try to be more independent, so she came up with several assistive robotic devices that can help people with disabilities to have greater physical independence. One of Kavita’s prototype consists of a robotic mattress, which is the core of her PhD dissertation defense at the University of Maryland. This innovation is a prototype of a robotic air mattress that features a number of air chambers that can be inflated or deflated using a web interface. This means the user can alternate pressure settings preventing pressure ulcers.

Taylor Moreland (USA)




Spina Bifida


The Frog

Taylor Moreland

Brody, Taylor’s son, was born with spina bifida. He underwent several surgeries but his mobility didn’t improve. His family wasn’t able to find a device on the market to help the child. Due to this they decided to build The Frog. It consists of a gadget on wheels that allows a child who is at least 6-months-old to use their arms to move. The Frog supports the baby’s weight with the help of large wheels placed near his hips. It tilts up and down so the kid has to carry some weight in the arms just like any other baby would when crawling. When the child is tired, he can comfortably rest the head on the floor. The large wheels mean he can easily roll through carpet or over a transition in a doorway.

Wang Nana and Huang Shuang (China)




Hearing impairment


Armband Showing

Wang Nana and Huang Shuang

Wang Nana and Huang Shuang were students when they were working on gesture recognition based on images. They had one deaf friend who tested their technology and they understood that image capture is not always good. That led the team to try new technologies and develop Showing, an armband which is worn around the arm. The armband is composed of eight EMG (electrodiagnostic medicine technique for evaluating and recording the electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles) sensors and gyroscope. To collect the EMG signal, the electrode piece needs to be close to the skin. It will do no harm to the human body. A gyroscope is used to collect the movements of the arm. Combining those two signals, it can recognise sign language with deep learning. When deaf people wear this gadget and communicate with people who can speak, their sign language will be translated to voice word by word and broadcast by the phone. People’s voice will be translated into letters and shown in the app so that deaf people can understand what they are talking about.

May We Help (USA)




Physical disability


Assistive devices for disabled people

May We Help

May We Help is a nonprofit organisation that develops gadgets to increase the autonomy level of disabled people. It all started when Bill Wood met a young lady who had cerebral palsy. Because of her condition, she had to use a pencil in her mouth to turn the pages. So she asked Bill if he could come up with a better way to read her books. At the same time, Bill Deimling was creating adapting assistive devices for a family member who also struggled with physical disabilities. Then the two Bills met and decided to help each other. They were also joined with Bill Sand, who had the idea of developing assistive devices for the people they knew. Together they founded May We Help.

• • •

4th Patient Innovation Awards

The Patient Innovation Awards are back for the 4th edition! And we are especially excited about this new edition because it will take place in a fantastic venue, at an amazing event.

The 4th Patient Innovation will take place on December 2nd 2019, in Paris (France), at Palais Brongniart, at 6pm.

Palais Brongniart, 4th Patient Innovation Awards Venue

Palais Brongniart, Exterior view

Palais Brongniart, 4th Patient Innovation Awards Venue

Palais Brongniart, Interior view

The ceremony will be held in the EIT Health Summit 2019, an event about health and innovation. This is an initiative of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, will this year be on the topic: 'Where collective ideas transform the future of healthcare’. The focus of this year’s event will be to explore the understanding of needs-based health innovation and the fundamental role it should play to change the lives of patients and citizens.

Pedro Oliveira and Helena Canhão, founders and project leaders of Patient Innovation, will open the ceremony by doing the Opening remarks and will be followed by Lisa Pape, a former PI Awards laureate and winner of the Horizon Prize for Social Innovation for Walk with Path. The Closing remarks will be presented by Sir Richard Roberts, Nobel Laureate in Medicine and Physiology and Member of the Advisory Board of Patient Innovation (via video-conference), and Manuel Heitor, Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education of Portugal.

Sir Richard Roberts, Nobel Laureate in Medicine and Physiology and Member of the Advisory Board of Patient Innovation

Sir Richard Roberts

Nobel Laureate in Medicine and Physiology and Member of the Advisory Board of Patient Innovation

Manuel Heitor, Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education of Portugal

Manuel Heitor

Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education of Portugal

It is with great pleasure that I join the 4th edition of the Patient Innovation Awards, this time being held in Paris at the EIT Health Summit, the main conference of EIT Health, one of the largest healthcare initiatives worldwide. In Paris we will honor innovative and inspiring patients and informal caregivers from China, India, the USA, and Denmark, who were selected by a group of distinguished scientists and scholars from the Advisory Board of Patient Innovation, which includes 2 Nobel Laureates, at a recent meeting held at MIT in Boston. All this is evidence of the truly global nature of this non-profit and global organization, which was born in Portugal and is a spin-off of a collaborative research project funded by the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation through the Carnegie Mellon-Portugal and MIT-Portugal Programs and also by the Gulbenkian Foundation, among others.

Manuel Heitor

Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education of Portugal

You can check the full programme here.

EIT Health Summit 2019

Sounds good? If you want to get a shot at being one of these winners, next year, it’s very simple: just register at the Patient Innovation platform and tell the story about the solution you developed to help you overcome a challenge imposed by a disease or health condition. Or, if that’s not the case, you can still apply by registering and telling the story of a solution you created not to help yourself but a loved or someone you know. By doing this, you are automatically applying for the 5th Patient Innovation Awards.

• • •

We are thrilled to announce that Patient Innovation has signed a collaboration and sponsorship agreement with EIT Health.

Collaboration and Sponsorship with EIT Health

EIT Health is a consortium of over 140 partners including companies, research centres and universities from 15 EU countries. The goal of EIT Health is to contribute to increasing the competitiveness of European industry, improve the quality of life of Europe’s citizens and the sustainability of healthcare systems. In line with Patient Innovation's goals, EIT Health promotes entrepreneurship and innovation in healthy living and active ageing, providing Europeans with new opportunities and resources.

EIT Health is one of the largest healthcare initiatives worldwide and we are super happy with this opportunity and look forward to working with EIT Health and its partners.

Patient Innovation is a nonprofit organisation with operations in Portugal (Lisbon) and Denmark (Copenhagen).

Nova Medical School - Faculdade de Ciências Médicas and Copenhagen Business School
President of the Republic of Portugal, EIT Health, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, Carnegie Mellon, Shuttleworth Foundation, LexMundi Foundation, Morais Leitão and Católica Lisbon School of Business

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