Columbians Win Big at Empire State Opioid Challenge

Feb 12 2019 | By Jesse Adams | Photo Credit: James Cook/Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Global Health

QuikReversal was created at the Columbia Opioid Design Challenge in fall 2017 and went on to earn a $10,000 prize in the first round of the Empire State challenge last September.

Pitching novel technologies to confront narcotics addiction, Columbia-affiliated teams took top honors at the conclusion of the Empire State Opioid Epidemic Innovation Challenge, held on campus January 31.

Earning the $10,000 grand prize was QuikReversal, an intranasal patch that releases naloxone to prevent opioid overdose. The team—Morgan Cambareri ’18 and Asher Varon ’18GSAS/JTS—got its start at the Columbia Opioid Design Challenge in fall 2017 and went on to earn a $1,000 prize in the first round of the Empire State challenge last September.

“The Columbia challenge was a great way to get a comprehensive survey of the epidemic, learn about solutions in the space, and give students from across the university the chance to collaborate,” Varon said. “This challenge… allowed us to delve deeper and develop our idea with community-wide support, feedback, and collaboration.”

As part of their award, the QuikReversal team will soon join a six-month accelerator program at the Consortium for Affordable Medical Technologies (CAMTech), where they’ll work to bring their product closer to market.

Also winning six months of accelerator support was Recover-We, a widget that connects people searching online for addiction recovery with reliable local resources. After earning a $1,500 prize in the first round, the team—including Gautham Harinarayan MS’18—garnered the challenge’s Community Empowerment Award.

Another Columbia team, Kenzo, was among the six finalists who pitched before a multidisciplinary panel of judges. The recently launched app, developed by Young Joon Kim ’20CC and Arjun Srivatsa ’20CC, connects people in recovery to personalized support groups and analyzes data to anticipate relapses.

The Empire State challenge was sponsored by CAMTech in partnership with Columbia Engineering, the Mailman School of Public Health, Northwell Health, the State of New York, and the Office of the Staten Island Borough President.