UPstart, a business incubator at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Technology Transfer, believes that a call for brilliant app ideas shouldn’t be limited to the tech savvy. In September, the incubator asked the entire Penn community — doctors, students and poets — to take part in Upstart’s “AppItUP” challenge.

Over a period of one month, 185 members of the Penn community submitted their ideas and UPstart asked local venture capital firms to review the ideas and narrow the entries down to 10 finalists.

“The VCs know the market, they know where it’s going,” said Karina Sotnik, senior consultant for UPstart.

The aim of the challenge is to create more than an app. The goal is to develop companies that will create jobs, Sotnik said.

The 10 finalists presented their ideas to local venture capitalists and developers on a Friday evening in late November in front of an audience of approximately 100 people.

The ideas ranged from an app that helps consumers find a coffee that matches their taste preferences — fittingly called “Beans” — to one that helps people suffering from life-threatening allergic reactions call 911 on speakerphone and text important information to the 911 call center.

In fitting style with the contest, the most popular app amongst the judges was created by a doctor — not an app developer. Resuscor assists health care providers in delivering Targeted Temperature Management, an underutilized medical technique that, according to the app’s creator, doubles the chance of survival of cardiac arrest. The written description of the app — which will feature 3D animations and short videos — says the intention is to “offer a viable solution to a large ‘training gap’ that currently exists for a highly morbid disease.”

It was created by three members of the university community: Dr. Benjamin Abella, assistant professor and clinical research director at the Perelman School of Medicine; Marion Leary, assistant director of clinical research at the Center for Resuscitation Science; and Audrey Blewer, assistant director of education Center for Resuscitation Science. Three companies ended up bidding for the app, and the Resuscor team went with SemperCon, a mobile application development company based in Bucks County.

Only five ideas were expected to win, but six ended up leaving the event as winners. Valex Consulting, a development company based out of Horsham, chose to invest in two app ideas, rather than just one.

The winning apps are asked to create a prototype and strategy plan by March, and the best one will receive a $15,000 grant. The grand prizewinner will be announced at the Annual Upstart Conference in early April 2014.

Zenovia Campbell

Reporter-Philadelphia Business Journal