Fourth-Year Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Student Ashwinraj Karthikeyan Will Work Full Time to Develop and Market His Wound Care Technology After Graduation

An entrepreneurial venture led by Ashwinraj Karthikeyan, a fourth-year student in the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science, has earned two major honors this spring.

InMEDBio LLC, Karthikeyan’s company that is developing a new type of wound care dressing designed to prevent infections and accelerate healing, impressed a team of business leaders to win the first-annual $50,000 Pike Prize for Innovation and Entrepreneurship April 27.

InMEDBio also won first place at the ACC InVenture Prize at Georgia Tech April 6 – the top prize for entrepreneurship among Atlantic Coast Conference schools. InMEDBio additionally won the People’s Choice award during that competition. The two awards together totaled $20,000 in prize money.

With awards from the two competitions under his belt, Karthikeyan will begin working on his wound care technology, called Phoenix-Aid, full time after graduating from UVA Engineering with a degree in aerospace engineering in May 2018.

He has had a year of outstanding mentorship and growth since InMEDBio was selected as one of five Pike Fellows student teams last summer.

The Pike Engineering Entrepreneurship Fellows Program is named for the Pike family, whose generous donation made the program possible. Will Pike is a 2016 graduate of UVA’s Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and director of operations for the Pike Corporation. His father, Eric Pike, is chairman and chief executive officer of the company.

The program is designed to help Pike Fellows mature as entrepreneurs while they develop their products for market. InMEDBio and other Pike Fellows teams were paired with established entrepreneurs and professionals, and they checked in weekly with the program’s administrators, Elizabeth Pyle, associate director for technology entrepreneurship, and Alexander Zorychta, coordinator for student entrepreneurs, of the Department of Engineering & Society.

Pyle and Zorychta also organized workshops and regularly brought all the Pike fellows together to exchange ideas. In addition, each team received a $5,000 seed grant it used for such tasks as customer discovery and project development.

Teams also were encouraged to compete in the University-wide Entrepreneurship Cup and such regional and national competitions for entrepreneurs as the ACC InVenture Prize, where UVA Engineering teams have earned a top place every year since the competition began three years ago.

Karthikeyan said the experiences have been invaluable to helping him realize his dreams for helping people with chronic wounds around the world.

"There's no way I could not do this - it would be the biggest what-if," he said. "I would always wonder."

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