UBC Engineering team wins 2020 National James Dyson Award 

Attentiv Medical
The Attentiv Medical team: (from left) Rio Nishida, Kevin Ta, Siddharth Birla, Jessica Bo, Gordon Yeh and Jessica Yu. (Credit: The James Dyson Foundation)

A team of UBC Engineering and Sauder School of Business graduates — Siddharth Birla, Jessica Bo, Rio Nishida, Kevin Ta, Gordon Yeh and Jessica Yu — has been named the winner of the 2020 James Dyson Award in Canada.  

Known as Attentiv Medical, the group developed an innovative intravenous (IV) catheter and monitoring system to detect IV infiltration, a common complication of IV therapy. Infiltration involves the leakage of medical fluid from a catheter into the surrounding tissue, which can cause permanent damage if left untreated. 

Attentiv system
In the Attentiv system, a sensor-tipped catheter transmits biosignals to a monitor, indicating whether the IV is inside or outside the vein. (Credit: Attentiv Medical)

“We are thrilled for our work to be recognized by the James Dyson Foundation,” says Jessica Bo, the team’s research lead and now a master’s student in mechanical engineering at ETH Zurich. “Honours like this encourage us to continue our efforts to bring our device to market and achieve our ultimate goal of improving IV safety and standards of care around the world.” 

Attentiv’s innovative technology — which consists of a sensorized catheter, transmitter and monitor — alerts caregivers as soon as the catheter is dislodged from the vein, the main cause of leakage. Developed in consultation with nurses, researchers and hospital managers, the system requires little training and can be easily integrated into existing workflows, says the team.  

Attentiv catheter
Unlike existing devices, Attentiv's technology detects catheter displacement directly at the vein, enabling caretakers to respond before irreversible damage is done. (Credit: The James Dyson Foundation)

Infiltration is particularly harmful among vulnerable populations such as premature babies, the elderly and people undergoing chemotherapy, who may require surgery or even amputation as a result of the leakage. The team identified the problem as a major one after interviewing more than 70 individuals within the biomedical field, including researchers, industry experts and clinicians.  

The Attentiv team has already received several other awards and honours since forming in UBC’s New Venture Design course last year. These include first place in the healthcare stream of the 2020 Microsoft Canada Discover AI Challenge, second place at UBC's Innovation onBoard entrepreneurship competition, the Royal Bank of Canada Get Seeded award and the 2020 UBC New Venture Design Program Industry Award and Faculty Award.  

Attentiv team
The Attentiv team now aims to publish a design paper based on their experiments, as well as to connect with potential partners for technical development and clinical validation. (Credit: The James Dyson Foundation)

As the winner of the Canadian arm of the James Dyson Award, Attentiv now has the opportunity to progress to the international stage of the competition, where they would face off against 19 other teams for a $50,000 prize. The finalists, selected by Dyson engineers from a pool of national winners and runners-up from 27 participating countries and regions, will be announced in mid-October. 

Established by the James Dyson Foundation in 2005, the James Dyson Award is an international design award that “celebrates, encourages and inspires the next generation of design engineers.” 

For more information about Attentiv Medical or the James Dyson Award, please see the official press release or watch the team's James Dyson Award video below.

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