Senior Design to Start-Up
June 20, 2016
We are excited to announce the launch of Luso Labs LLC! Through the cerVIA system, Luso Labs will help provide automated, accurate and accessible cervical cancer screening for clinics and hospitals in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) worldwide. This journey began a little more than a year ago when our team came together with the goal of developing revolutionary medical technologies that meet the unique clinical needs in LMICs. To do so, our team went through the Columbia Biomedical Engineering Design Program in the fall of 2015. We used principles created by the Stanford Biodesign Institute to identify a clinical need, determine pertinent design inputs, evaluate potential solutions and perform proof-of-concept testing. Through this process, we found ourselves engaged with the idea of improving the visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) testing that is used for cervical cancer screening in LMICs. Our team began developing the cerVIA system: a speculum-fitted device that uses a unique algorithm to detect precancerous lesions found during VIA.
Olachi Modifying an Early Camera System Prototype in the Columbia Biomedical Engineering Design Lab
With promising proof-of-concept testing results from our initial prototype, our team now looked to understand the needs of our customers in LMICs and further detail out our business model. Before the spring semester started, we took part in the Lean Launchpad program led by Steve Blank in the Columbia Business School. By pushing us to interview ~60 key stakeholders in the LMIC cervical cancer screening market in the span of five days, Lean Launchpad opened our eyes to the clinical resource constraints that our customers faced. Coming away from the program, our team had the insight needed to develop a viable business model.
The Luso Labs Team with Columbia College Dean James Valentini at the 2016 Columbia Venture Competition
During the spring semester, Columbia Business School’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program (IE@Columbia) provided our team with the platform to completely flesh out our business model. By interacting with a cohort of ~20 professors and 8 other start-ups in weekly classes, our team leveraged the decades of experience in our classroom to identify our target market, existing distribution channels and regulatory processes while building our financial projections and pricing strategy. While constructing our business model, we still worked hard in the lab, finishing preliminary prototyping of the cerVIA system in our design program. This combination of effort and focus on both the business and technology aspects of our start-up ultimately helped us to win significant funding at the 2016 Columbia Senior Design Competition and Columbia Venture Competition, providing the capital needed to start Luso Labs LLC.
Stephanie, Olachi and Ritish with Columbia Engineering Dean Mary Boyce at the 2016 Columbia Senior Design Exhibition
Luso Labs’s vision is for a world without the threat of cervical cancer. We want to supplement the accuracy of current VIA testing and save hundreds of thousands of women from cervical cancer every year. During the summer, our team will be continuing to optimize the cerVIA system's algorithm while also organizing our pilot study in India. We'll also be doing some traveling in the next few months: Cambridge in late-July for the VentureWell E-Team Stage 1 Workshop and Kampala, Uganda in mid-August for field-testing. Reach out to us if you are in the area and want to meet!
Looking back, we have greatly benefited from the help of our professional mentors. Our team recognizes the benefits of experience and actively seeks mentorship. Anyone interested in helping our cause can click the "Contact Us" button above. Through your support, we will make Luso Labs's vision into a reality.
In the meantime, stay tuned for our periodic progress updates. We are very excited to have you join us on our journey.
Until next time,
Ritish Patnaik and the Luso Labs Team
Let's start talking
With a goal to reach patients within 3 years, our team welcomes feedback, collaborations and funding opportunities.