Philadelphia – Students’ dental innovations were recently in the spotlight as part of the inaugural Dr. Edward B. Shils Entrepreneurial Fund’s Social Entrepreneur Leadership Conference, as five student teams from Penn Dental Medicine presented their ideas for unique dental products in a Shils Stars Dental Student Competition. Held at the Union League of Philadelphia in October 4, the Conference and Competition were inspired by the Fund’s namesake, Dr. Edward B. Shils, who was a driving force in American business and in the oral health community. He founded the first center for Entrepreneurial Research and Teaching at Penn’s Wharton School, where he was on the faculty for more than 50 years.
The five student teams competed for start-up funding for their innovative oral health projects; the teams and projects included:
- My Smile Pal (Sherry Wan (D’20) and Sohee Moon (D’20)) — An app to utilize consumers’ ever-growing interest in mobile health and fitness tracking to provide oral health education and track how diet can affect dental health and esthetics.
- Behavior Based Dental Insurance (Soren Christensen (D’20) and Sam Caruso (D’20)) — A different approach to dental insurance by implementing behavior-based premiums for patients through utilization of current technology in the field.
- DENTALK (Alyse Mongalo (D’20), Yasmin Tontat (D’20), and Ashley Swan (D’20)) — A supplemental oral health education app designed to improve the clinical experience for the dental student and patient.
- Modern Mouth (Juliette Mann (D’21) and Cole Bender (D’21)) – A 3D anatomical education and presentation software that combines a library of 3D anatomy images with the capability to present any view of the associated content.
- Spring (Elizabeth Soulas (D’20), Sam Caruso (D’20), Mordy Fried (D’20), Samuel Kang (D’19), and Nick Branson (D’20)) — A product that aims to reduce needle-stick injuries and reduce patient anxiety through an automatic needle-capping mechanism.
Each team had five minutes to present their ideas and five minutes to answer questions from the judges and the audience, which consisted of dental, medical and business professionals. Stanley M. Bergman, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Henry Schein, Inc. and a member of the Penn Dental Medicine Board of Overseers, led the panel of judges. The judging panel also included Julie Charlestein, President and CEO of Premier Dental Products Company and a Penn Dental Medicine Board of Overseer; Dr. Matilde Hernandez Gonzalez, MS, MBA, Scientific Affairs Manager, Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals; Robert Mehalso, PhD, CEO & Chairman, SensoDx, LLC ; Dr. Kris Volcheck, MBA, CEO & Founder, Brighter Way Institute; Fran Gallagher, CEO, New Jersey Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics; Angel Figueroa, MBA, Chief Executive Officer, I-LEAD Charter School; and Dr. Bari Levine, MPH, Founder, Growing Smiles Foundation.
Modern Mouth was selected as the winning team with a first place prize of $2,000, and Mann and Bender will present their project at the Shils Fund’s next Shils Stars Dental Student Competition at the Greater New York Dental Meeting on Sunday, November 25. Behavior Based Insurance took second place ($1,500), My Smile Pal was awarded third place ($1,000), and fourth place ($500) went to Spring.
Student participation in the competition was organized by Dental Innovators, Creators and Entrepreneurs (DICE), a student-led organization at Penn Dental Medicine. The group’s primary charter is to support students with interests in innovation, entrepreneurship, technology, and business in an effort to solve problems in the dental field.
“DICE helps students learn how to address unmet needs in dentistry and teaches students how to use principles of innovation to create something tangible from their ideas,” says Alyse Mongalo, co-founder and CEO of DICE. “It was great to gain the experience of pitching our ideas to experts in our industry as part of this competition and their feedback was invaluable.”