Entrepreneurship: Undergrad Major Wins Greener Ventures Contest
Between classes and research on her honors thesis, Alison Stace-Naughton ’11 took a crash course in regulatory clearance and intellectual property rights. The hard work was worth it. She placed first in the Greener Ventures Entrepreneurship Contest held in April by Tuck School of Business for a vacuum suction tissue stabilizing device designed to prevent tissue damage during endoscopic surgery. A hefty $25,000 in prize money catapulted her ahead in her plan to patent the device and ready it for clinical use.
“I thought the contest would be a good experience to practice giving my pitch. Winning came as a complete surprise,” says Stace-Naughton, cofounder and manager of Spiral-E Solutions, LLC. “Thayer encouraged me to take charge of this opportunity and to file for the patent.”
Just 18 months ago she co-invented the Spiral-E Solutions Tissue Stabilizer in ENGS 21: “Introduction to Engineering” with classmates Ihab Basri ’13, Brenna Gibbons ’12, and Ph.D. candidate Scott Snyder ’00 Th’01. All cofounded Spiral-E Solutions, LLC, and serve on its board.
Stace-Naughton took the most active role in establishing the company and achieving proof of concept. “I couldn’t have done any of it without the critical business development advice of Gregg Fairbrothers and Scott Schorer,” she says. Schorer ’90 Th’91, a medical-device industry professional, and Fairbrothers ’76, founding director of the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network, connected Stace-Naughton with patent lawyers and clinicians at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center to perform an in-vitro study on a pig stomach.
“Surgical procedures lack appropriate tissue stabilizing platforms, limiting surgeons’ ability to effectively hold tissue and close the incision site without complications,” she says. “Our device uses vacuum pressure to stabilize tissue around an incision and minimize tissue damage from any angle during surgery.”
The young entrepreneur is now on her way to raising $400,000 to build a medical-grade prototype of the device. She plans to reach out to industry players, land an in-vivo study, and keep on with her studies. “I am hopeful that Spiral-E Solutions will continue,” she says. “But I plan to keep the company as a side project as I write my honors thesis on neuroscience engineering and pursue a career in research.”