A medical device designed for dental patients and others that suppresses the gag-reflex via a novel glove device is a step closer to reality following an agreement between Miami University and start-up company PharynMed signed April 15.
The story of the patent-pending device, in development for five years by a team of Miami professors, involves an interdisciplinary group of undergraduate students in an entrepreneurship class, a new technology transfer and commercialization collaboration with Wright State University and the new agreement between Miami and PharynMed.
PharynMed plans to develop, market and sell the patent-pending device invented by Donna Scarborough, associate professor of speech pathology and audiology, and Michael Bailey-Van Kuren, associate professor of mechanical and manufacturing engineering. The glove-like acupressure device diminishes the gag-reflex in speech therapy and in people who are sensitive to activities such as dental procedures or taking pills.
The new company is a result of a student project in an entrepreneurship capstone class in Miami’s Farmer School of Business. Joseph (Jay) Kayne, Cintas Chair in Entrepreneurship; Wayne Speer, Markley Visiting Professor in Entrepreneurship; and Jim Oris, associate dean for research and scholarship, conceived of the idea of using the anti-gag device as a test case for the student capstone group.
The student team pursued a business and marketing plan for the device during its capstone semester in fall 2009 and through a semester at the RedHawk Hatchery, a program designed to help Miami entrepreneurship students develop potential businesses by the time they graduate. Along the way the group won several regional awards for its business plan.
The entrepreneurship team — two who graduated last year and two current seniors — includes: graduates Benjamin (Wiley) Burch, interdisciplinary business management major, and Alexandria (Lexi) Lucchesse, speech communication major and entrepreneurship minor; and seniors Kevin Nelson, finance major, and Chris Blanchard, general engineering major and entrepreneurship minor.
This year the team named a CEO for PharynMed: James Stahly, former president of Henry Schein Inc.’s North American Dental Group (West Chester). Henry Schein Inc. is the largest distributor of healthcare products and services to medical, dental and veterinary office-based practitioners.
“This is an exciting device that addresses a serious problem for many dental patients; a problem for which there is currently no clinically proven solution available. Our market research and broad industry experience indicates a receptive audience in the dental community, and we expect widespread and rapid acceptance of the device upon its introduction into the marketplace.”
PhayrnMed has also formed a board of advisers, which includes Scarborough, Bailey-Van Kuren and business, financial and legal professionals from the Cincinnati area.
CEO Stahly, Burch, Lucchesse, Nelson and Blanchard and their board of advisers plan to launch PharynMed into the professional dental marketplace over the next two years.
Miami’s agreement with PharynMed provides a two-year royalty-free option to license the technology for commercial application, according to Oris. If PharynMed is successful during the next two years, Miami will license the technology to the company.
“There will be a significant royalty stream generated to the university if the business succeeds,” Oris said.
Reid Smith, technology transfer associate at Miami and director of technology transfer at Wright State University, assisted in the agreement with PharynMed. His position is part of the new five-year agreement between Miami and Wright State.