Bench 2 Bedside competition at the U kickoff.

Bench-to-Bedside Competition Kicks Off Fifth Season

The Bench-to-Bedside competition is an exciting and vibrant program designed to introduce health science students, engineering students and business students to the world of medical device innovation. Teams compete for more than $70,000 in prize money each year, and the 2014-2015 season begins with kickoff events on Sept. 23, Oct. 7, 8 and 9 (details below).

Now in its fifth year, the Bench-to-Bedside program has quickly become a popular and dominant student-run competition. Student teams form multidisciplinary “startup companies” and are given the task of identifying and solving an unmet clinical need. Teams are given access to University of Utah physicians and industry experts from a broad area of specialties to serve as their consultants, key opinion leaders and stakeholders. The teams have six months and a $500 development fund to develop medical-device concepts that address their identified need. In that six-month time period, students will have evaluated the intellectual property landscape, prototyped their design and constructed a business plan.

The program culminates in a formal presentation of all team projects at an annual awards competition. The event draws participation from faculty, physicians, industry leaders, venture capital firms and university leadership. The team projects are evaluated and scored for business strategy, design quality and healthcare impact by a VIP panel of judges.

The enthusiasm for Bench-to-Bedside has been remarkable from its inception. About 200 students participated in last year’s competition, forming 45 entrepreneurial teams. The students’ creativity and “out-of-the-box” thinking resulted in very unique design concepts, several of which are currently heading toward commercialization.

Students participating in Bench-to-Bedside gain in-depth experiences that give them a head start in the job market. Students who work with mentors to identify and solve a clinical problem also hone numerous cognitive skills, including analytical and critical thinking abilities, organizational skills, experience working with deadlines, public speaking skills and the ability to form thoughtful questions. Perhaps the greatest benefits of participating in Bench-to-Bedside are those that occur at the personal level. Student participants report increased enthusiasm for the learning process, relationships with faculty mentors, consideration of ethics, emotional maturity, and self-confidence.

The program is managed through a partnership between the U’s Center for Medical Innovation and Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute. Zions Bank is the primary event sponsor.

Learn more at

2014-2015 Kickoff Events

For more information or to sign up, attend one of the kickoff events this year:

  • Main Kickoff  (All students welcome; dinner provided)
    • All colleges – Spencer Fox Eccles Business Building Room 7180, Sept. 23 at 6 p.m.
  • Secondary Kickoffs (Events for individual colleges but open to all students still needing to form a team or looking for additional team members; dinner provided)
    • Health Sciences – Health Sciences Education Building Room 1750, Oct. 7 at 6 p.m.
    • Engineering – Warnock Engineering Building Catmull Gallery, Oct. 8 at 6 p.m.
    • Business – Spencer Fox Eccles Business Building Room 7180, Oct. 9 at 6 p.m.

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