Four engineering and computer science students have conceived a startup company with the goal of circulating life-saving vending machines that can dispense over-the-counter medicine 24 hours a day to anyone with a pressing ailment, such as fever, diarrhea, indigestion, or aches and pains. The team called TransPharm will be competing in at least two entrepreneurship competitions in the coming weeks, and has already been selected as a finalist in one.
TransPharm is a finalist for Lever’s Berkshire Manufacturing Innovation Challenge. As such, the team will be coached by Lever staff and expert mentors in the time leading up to the January 24 competition in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. At that time, a panel of judges will select one team to receive $25,000 and join the Lever incubator project during the summer of 2019.
TransPharm has also competed in the first two rounds of the UMass Innovation Challenge, and the team plans to compete in the Semifinals in the future.
The power of TransPharm is that it can go almost anywhere. As founder, Abhishek Ram (mechanical engineering) states, “The portability and energy efficiency of TransPharm makes it easily deployable in disaster areas, areas of humanitarian crises, and even in remote villages.”
In addition to Ram, the other students on the TransPharm team are Nila Sadeeshkumar, computer science, Siddhartha Srivastava, electrical engineering and computer systems engineering, and Aashish Kumar, computer science and economics.
As TransPharm’s Minute Pitch goes, “Imagine an elderly village woman in India named Padma, who is in desperate need of fever medicine at one a.m., but she has none at home. Her small, local pharmacy is currently closed. What can she do?”
TransPharm’s team members note that this kind of issue can happen anywhere, from rural India to right here at UMass. “We have met individuals from diverse backgrounds who have dealt with these issues,” the TransPharm Minute Pitch explains. “But now we have a product that will provide over-the-counter medications on a 24/7 basis. TransPharm, the ‘pharmacy after dark,’ is here providing remotely placed, over-the-counter, pharmaceutical vending machines for local access.”
With a very simple interface, TransPharm can be positioned across a diverse range of locations, cultures, and languages, all for a very low manufacturing cost of $250 apiece in U.S. currency. Because of its alternative cooling source consisting of clay for insulation and Peltier Cooling Modules for temperature control, it is very sustainable and ultimately much cheaper to produce than traditional vending machines.
“Imagine UMass dorms with a TransPharm!” says the TransPharm Minute Pitch. “I’ve needed medication late at night and couldn’t drive to the nearest 24x7 pharmacy 18 miles away. What about you?” (January 2019)