2017 Y-Prize Champions Win Penn President’s Innovation Prize

Brandon Kao EAS’18, Rui Jing Jiang W’18, and Adarsh Battu W’18 (photo credit Eric Sucar)


Listen to Rui Jing Jiang describe her team’s revolutionary glaucoma treatment on this episode of Launch Pad, first broadcast on on Sirius XM Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by The Wharton School. Avisi won both 3rd Prize and the Gloeckner Undergraduate Award in the 2018 Penn Wharton Startup Challenge on April 27, 2018.

The team that netted the top prize in the 2017 Y-Prize Competition has now captured an even bigger fish: The Class of 2018 Penn President’s Innovation Prize.

This prestigious annual prize offers $100,000 to a team of graduating seniors (plus a $50,000 living stipend per student) for an innovative commercial venture that will make a positive difference in the world.

Jiang and Battu at the 2017 Y-Prize finale with faculty mentors Richard Stone, MD, and Eydie Miller, MD.

Team members Adarsh Battu, Rui Jing Jiang, and Brandon Kao came up with their prizewinning idea by brainstorming medical applications for ultrathin plate technology developed by Penn’s Bargatin Group and featured in the fifth annual Y-Prize. Their product, Visiplate, offers a revolutionary treatment for open angle glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness that currently has no cure. In their solution, a nanoscale plate implanted just under the surface of the eye diffuses excess aqueous fluid that would otherwise put pressure on the optic nerve and cause irreversible vision loss. Other treatments now on the market have low compliance and high rates of failure.

In a 2017 interview, the team shared the many other Penn resources they’d used to grow their idea after winning the Y-Prize: the VIP-X accelerator program, the Penn Wharton Innovation Fund, the Berkman Fund, the Crowd Favorite Award in the 2017 Penn Wharton Startup Challenge, membership in the Penn I-Corps Accelerator, and a Seed Grant from Penn’s Singh Center for Nanotechnology. “We see this as a great opportunity to leverage resources at the university to do something impactful,” Jiang said.

In addition to the cash prize and living stipend, the President’s Innovation Prize also includes a year of access to the Pennovation Center. The students plan to spend the next year continuing to develop their startup, Avisi Technologies, and working to bring VisiPlate to market.

In an announcement about the Prize, Penn President Amy Gutmann remarked that the team “has conceived an innovative, impactful project that leverages Penn knowledge to address timely, consequential challenges. I look forward to seeing the positive difference these students will make in Philadelphia, across the country, and around the world.”

Please join the Mack Institute in congratulating these students for their incredible accomplishment!

Michelle Eckert is Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Mack Institute, where she works to engage students, researchers, and corporate partners in opportunities for collaboration. Michelle received her B.A. in Art from Valparaiso University in 2007. Her background includes two AmeriCorps terms of service working to teach mathematics, computer literacy, and job readiness skills to out-of-school youth in Philadelphia, focusing particularly on promoting access to post-secondary education.

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