Standout Teams in I-Corps Program Conduct Market Research for their Technologies

Making Waves
June 18, 2020 By Jackie Connor

It’s no secret that conducting market research to develop a technology or potential startup has been more difficult as of late. Despite the changes caused by the coronavirus, UCI Beall Applied Innovation’s I-Corps program has helped UC Irvine innovators to continue their path toward commercialization in a safe and healthy way.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the I-Corps program is a market discovery program that leads campus innovators through an immersive learning process. Within the program’s market discovery component, teams have interviewed their potential client base via Zoom and phone calls.

At UCI’s Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic, a team of innovators designed a UCI technology called coherent spatial imaging (CSI), or a compact, wearable sensor that combines continuous blood flow and oxygenation measurements to estimate metabolism. The team’s goal is to include measurements, such as blood flow and metabolism, as part of a clinician’s vital assessment to understand more details about a patient.

“The program helped us set aside some of our initial misconceptions concerning our customers and focus on the pains and gains that clinicians and patients experience,” said Cody Dunn, UCI graduate student and co-inventor. “During the interviews, we were also able to establish meaningful connections with doctors for future human pilot studies.”

UCI School of Medicine’s Dr. Ichiro Yuki, associate clinical professor of Neurological Surgery, and his team are developing a newer, safer liquid material designed for catheter-based stroke and tumor treatment, also known as Aqua Embolic System, through their startup AquaTex. The liquid material is injected into a blood vessel from a very tiny micro-catheter and solidifies once exposed to blood flow to seal off those vessels feeding targeted lesions, such as vascular malformations or brain tumors.

“As compared to other devices and materials, the frequency of the use might be a little bit lower, but still a very important and powerful tool that we’ve been using,” said Yuki.
Compared to similar current micro-catheter solutions, AquaTex aims to show their treatment is the safest and most effective.

“With the I-Corps program, we have clearer vision for the technology – what really is the value of the material? What are really the things that customers are looking for? We learned a lot through those interviews,” said Yuki.

Learn more about the I-Corps program.

*Main photo: The Coherent Spatial Imaging (CSI) team working at UC Irvine’s Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic.
Photo courtesy of CSI

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