Report by India Education bureau, Pittsburgh: Sanna Gaspard’s entrepreneurial DNA is contagious. Her innovative drive to excel in developing and commercializing novel health care products helped her to join 18 international finalists in the 2013 Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards (CWIA). The CWIA highlights women entrepreneurs managing competitive and innovative businesses with sustainable business plans.
“This is truly a wonderful honor and validation of my work and efforts to grow Rubitection into a competitive and sustainable company,” said Gaspard, who earned her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at CMU in 2011.
Through Rubitection, USA, Gaspard is developing a low-cost, high-tech device, the Rubitect Assessment System (RAS), to detect and monitor early-stage pressure ulcers. Approximately 2.5 million patients suffer from pressure ulcers, which are more commonly known as bedsores. The RAS targets individuals with limited mobility — primarily the elderly — a population that is expected to double within the next 15 to 20 years.
“Gaspard has vision and tremendous personal drive. She is absolutely fearless in demolishing barriers. She is a great example of the entrepreneurial spirit so endemic to CMU and the College of Engineering,” said Todd M. Przybycien, Gaspard’s Ph.D adviser and a professor of chemical and biomedical engineering at CMU. “We cobbled together funding from several sources for Gaspard’s work when she was at the university, including an NIH supplement to a Pitt NIH grant, the Winters Foundation, the Tech Transfer Office, a couple business plan competitions and the CMU Biomedical Engineering Department.”
A native of the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, she grew up in Florida where she indulged her curiosity and love of science. Her fascination with science and a natural drive to deconstruct objects as a child led her to pursue a career in biomedical engineering.
Gaspard’s problem-solving and entrepreneurial talents have helped her garner academic and business awards. She was chosen as the 2010 Engineer’s Week “New Face of Engineering” for an inventive technology she developed to improve the overall survival rate of newborns, and she was the 2010 winner of the Dow Jones Business Plan Competition at Carnegie Mellon. She also studied in Trento, Italy, at a program sponsored by the Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers at the International Measurement University.
Gaspard outpaced 1,000 competitors from 14 nations in the CWIA competition, designed to showcase the business acumen, creativity and leadership skills of female entrepreneurs. Winners of the competition, sponsored by Cartier, the Women’s Forum, McKinsey& Co. and INSEAD business schools, will be announced in October. For additional information, see http://www.cartierwomensinitiative.com/candidate/sanna-gaspard.
CMU is recognized as one of the fastest growing entrepreneurial institutions, ranking first among U.S. universities without a medical school in the number of startup companies created per research dollar spent since 2007. In the past 15 years, Carnegie Mellon faculty and students have helped to create more than 300 companies and 9,000 jobs in the Pittsburgh region. On average the university produces 15 to 20 new startups a year.