ASME Selects Three Hardware Innovators for Idea Lab Class

Idea Lab is open to individuals and teams who have identified a social and/or environmental challenge they think could be addressed through a hardware-led innovation.

Idea Lab is open to individuals and teams who have identified a social and/or environmental challenge they think could be addressed through a hardware-led innovation.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has selected three innovators for the inaugural class of its Idea Lab incubator, a new program that extends the reach of the ASME Innovation Showcase (ISHOW) hardware accelerator platform. ASME received nearly 200 applications for the first round of Idea Lab from social entrepreneurs in 40 countries.

Idea Lab is open to individuals and teams who have identified a social and/or environmental challenge they think could be addressed through a hardware-led innovation that, once developed and scaled, will positively impact vulnerable populations.

The innovators in the inaugural 2022-23 ASME Idea Lab class are:

  • HatchTank (Helotes, TX) with its “PikePower water turbine”—Founder Matthis Herrera (pictured left) and Byron Hairston, project lead, are modeling an electricity turbine and generator system that can be fully submerged in naturally flowing water streams, including rivers, tidal and deep ocean currents. They hope to help address the need for a renewable baseload energy source that keeps pace with electrification needs and carbon reduction goals.
  • FLOW Period, LLC (New York, NY) with “The Flow menstrual cup cleaner”—Co-founders Taya Voronko (pictured left), Daniela Durón García and Andrew Parda are developing a device to clean and sanitize insertable menstrual cups, empowering women to choose a cup for its environmental and cost-saving benefits compared to other less sustainable period products.
  • Ikshana Healthcare (Bengaluru, Karnataka, India) with its “Ikshana wearable urinary incontinence solution”—Komal Shah, founder and design development lead (pictured left), Manish Arora, Ph.D., co-founder and technical development lead, and team are committed to helping the 200 million people worldwide who suffer from urinary incontinence. The Ikshana solution will use a novel adaptive stimulation method to improve effectiveness and efficiency of treatment over existing solutions in a convenient, discrete wearable device.

The goal of the Idea Lab engagement is to support innovators from the conceptual phase through the production of a low-fidelity prototype suitable for the next phase of technology development, the focus of the ASME ISHOW accelerator. The inaugural class of Idea Lab innovators will be engaged in the program for 6 to 18 months, depending on their stage of development, technical knowledge and mentorship needs. They will receive benefits, including guidance through the design process, assessment and a tailored curriculum, access to design services, design and engineering software/tools, positioning innovators for potential funding to cover prototyping expenses.

They will spend an average of 6 to 8 hours per week split between flexibly scheduled meetings and self-paced learning modules. Mentors include industry professionals with expertise in research, design, engineering, business development and more. Idea Lab innovators will work closely with Engineering for Change Fellows who will help coordinate activities throughout their technology development journey.
With the addition of the Idea Lab incubator, ASME moves “upstream” to aid budding social entrepreneurs in developing and implementing their social impact hardware concepts from the pre-prototype stage and filling the pipeline for future ISHOW participants poised to bring those innovations to the communities who need them. The ISHOW international accelerator of hardware-led social innovation has enabled more than 200 startups from 30 countries to solve critical quality-of-life challenges for underserved communities worldwide.

ISHOW alumni have developed affordable and sustainable hardware solutions addressing challenges outlined by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, including access to healthcare diagnostics, clean energy, water, sanitation, and affordable agricultural innovations to help end hunger and food waste.  

“Idea Lab helps us reach even more engineers who are interested in social entrepreneurism, but need guidance and support at the earliest stages,” says Iana Aranda, director of ASME’s Engineering Global Development sector that houses Idea Lab and ISHOW. “The Idea Lab curriculum integrates the ISHOW tested and validated methodologies that can bring vital solutions to market. This program portfolio also provides opportunities for engineering mentors and business leaders who are passionate about innovation and sustainability to support entrepreneurs in this important work.”

Keith Roe, former president of ASME and current chair of the philanthropy committee, and his wife Elizabeth “Brownie” Roe gave a donation to help launch the program. Potential partners and mentors can learn more about Idea Lab on the website.

Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website.

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