Former Mechanical Engineering student Florin Gheorghe and his team at Arbutus Medical have been accepted into Sauder’s Coast Capital Savings Innovation Hub, a prestigious one-year program that helps promising entrepreneurs turn great ideas into successful businesses. Arbutus Medical was started by Gheorghe (now the company’s CEO) and a group of other students from UBC’s Engineers in Scrubs program who envisioned an integrated and sterile surgical drill cover that would transform low-cost hardware store drills into safe and accurate surgical drills for use in Uganda. The prohibitive $30,000 cost of regular surgical drills forced Ugandan surgeons to resort to imprecise and slow hand drills or unsterile hardware drills, often resulting in disfigurement, severe infection and loss of life. With the help of Entrepreneurship at UBC (e@UBC) and the Federal Government’s Grand Challenges Canada initiative, Arbutus Medical’s drill covers have now been produced and are being added to hardware drills to perform safe and affordable surgeries in Uganda and disaster relief zones worldwide.
Now, with the help of Sauder’s Innovation Hub, the company can expect to see even greater success. The program accepts only six start-up companies per year, and gives them free access to space, mentors, and interns.
Despite the exclusivity of Innovation Hub, Gheorghe is not the only former MECH student and e@UBC participant to be attending this year. He will be joined by fellow UBC Mechanical Engineering alumna Andrea Palmer, founder and CEO of Awake Labs, whose wearable autism monitor has also earned her company a place in the program.