Temiloluwa Adeniyi believes that engineers that bring diverse perspectives to the table can solve real world problems. She uses her own background, as a Nigerian-American from an immigrant family, as an example.
“If a group is all from the same background working on a problem, you may not get diverse perspectives. If you grow up or work in a diverse environment, you may become more empathetic to observing the environment around you,” says Adeniyi.
That viewpoint has been important for her journey as a company founder.
The Georgia Tech graduate focused her master degree studies on medical devices after studying biomedical engineering as an undergraduate. While researching a project, she came across the impact pneumonia has on children not only abroad, but here in the U.S. The illness is the single largest infectious cause of death in children worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. It costs around $109 million per year to diagnose and treat.
“That’s when I started thinking about, what can we do for people that don’t have access to infrastructure or smartphones. The product needed to be something that could serve affluent communities and low-income communities here in the U.S. but also work abroad,” she explains.
That’s how Nopneu came to life. The actual device is a rapid diagnostic test to identify pneumonia with easy-to-read, color-coded results.
Doctors currently diagnose pneumonia through chest x-ray after ruling out other possible culprits — symptoms often look and sound just like the flu. Those x-ray machines are not readily available in all hospitals or smaller, rural clinics.
Doctors also must wait until there’s enough fluid buildup in the lungs to see it in the x-ray, which means it usually takes a few days to receive test results for a diagnosis.
With Nopneu’s diagnostic test, doctors can test for pneumonia from anywhere. After collecting the sample, the test’s color change will take place if the target bio marker of pneumonia is present.
“The goal is just to be able to diagnose it faster so you can start treatment,” says Adeniyi. The primary target user is children under the age of five.
This past April, Adeniyi’s pitch won Georgia Tech’s Ideas to Serve competition, which awards entrepreneurs with solutions to social, economic and environmental challenges.
Adeniyi says the resources and mentorship provided by Georgia Tech’s programs have been invaluable to helping the technical founder get on top of the business side of a startup. “There are basic business things that you don’t usually learn while studying engineering.”
“They say it takes a village to raise a baby, but also to grow a mature company. There’s no founder out there who succeeds without having a community of entrepreneurs and people who were supporting him or her,” she says.
Nopneu’s first test product is slated to launch in early 2019, under a B2B model that targets non-profits, government agencies and medical professionals with existing pneumonia initiatives. She recently met with the FDA to go over the final regulatory and quality control details.
Her team, including a pulmonologist that works as an advisor, are finishing up the last details and focusing on finding strategic partnerships with non-profits to grow their presence in the field.
Featured image by Dori Hagler from Me & Eve blog via Nopneu