“Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation.” — Dean Kamen, American inventor and businessman
- Bringing more safety to horse racing
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April 8, 2021
Tech to make the horse racing industry safer
Image courtesy Equine Smartbit
If you are an inventor, ideas sometimes come from unexpected places. In the case of Mike Saigh, inventor and co-founder of Equine Smartbit, a product idea arose from a set of missing dentures and a cat with larceny on his mind. We spoke to Saigh and CEO Mark Pound.
Tell us how the idea of the Smartbit came about.
Saigh: The idea germinated in 2014. My mom had a friend named Dottie whose cat would steal her dentures and hide them behind furniture. I thought, what if Dottie had a smart retainer that went in her mouth? It could also be used as a monitoring device that uses saliva for biometrics and diagnostics continuously.
I’m talking about measuring lactic acid or glucose instead of pricking your finger; biometrics with temperature, oxygen, respiration, and heart rate. So we created the Smartbit. We proved, after a long development, that it works on a mobile basis. It’s tiny, it’s about the size of a quarter. It fits in a retainer. It could fit on the arm. It’s universal.
It's going to be the tool for medical diagnostics and healthcare diagnostics and even sports diagnostics in the future. So it’s going to be continuous monitoring, or you can do an on-the-spot check.
By the way, Dottie now has dental implants, so the cat can’t steal anything anymore!
How does the tech work with horses?
Saigh: You can insert the microdevice into a horse bit and it tells you when a rider is going 35 miles an hour around the track. It tells the trainer, okay, this heart rate is too high and could be problematic. Or the Sp02 is too low. Or temperature is off, or respiration is off. This is in real time.
That’s important with the horse-racing industry. Over 10,000 thoroughbreds are euthanized each year. We can prevent a lot of the injuries that require putting them down with this tech.
"We’re showing the public that we’re actually starting to take measures now to help horses and prolong their life spans instead of treating them like an object that we just get rid of every year."
— Mark Pound, CEO Equine Smartbit
Pound: What’s currently happening in the medical field is they’re doing their damnedest to try to help these horses and prevent injury, but it’s always reactive instead of proactive. If they use the device during a performance, they can look at the biometrics, see a baseline, and then identify the abnormalities. If something happens, then you see it from an internal standpoint and you can get that horse off and checked prior to any injury really setting in, so you can get them into rehab quicker if you have to.
Standing still, the horse doesn’t tell you much. Unless their legs are super hot because they hold so much weight in the front legs and they’re hot because they’re in pain. Or there’s a limp at the barn and you’re like, well I didn’t see the limp during the race. So now they’re limping. What happened during the race?
Where is the Equine Smartbit worn?
Saigh: To give some more clarity on the bit, there’s a metal encasement that actually goes to the middle of the bit, and the module fits within that metal encasement. The sensor can also be used in a tail enclosure.
Pound: With something like this, we’ll give a proactive approach to the racing industry. We’re showing the public that hey, we’re actually starting to take measures now to help these horses and prolong their life spans instead of treating them like an object that we just get rid of every year.
You can learn more about the Equine SmartBit in this video.
Innovation frontiers around the globe
If you enjoy discovering innovation in surprising places and hearing stories from entrepreneurial leaders, Fast Frontiers is your new must-listen-to podcast. Host Tim Schigel, Managing Partner of Refinery Ventures, brings you interviews from leading funders, ecosystem builders, corporate innovators, and startup founders.
Entrepreneurs and investors across the globe face similar challenges and successes as we do here. We can certainly learn from each other, including how various ecosystems adapt to different environments.
A time zone constraint? — S2:E10
There is a thriving technology ecosystem in Australia. Hear how ambition, community, and leveraging a time zone constraint into an advantage played a key role in its development. Niki Scevak, co-founder and partner of Blackbird Ventures in Melbourne, joins Fast Frontiers to explain.
No fear, reasonable risk, & focus — S2:E12
Learn lessons from Startup Nation Israel - don't be afraid to fail, take risks reasonably and ultimately be mission-driven and just get stuff done. Jon Medved, founder and CEO of OurCrowd in Israel, joins Fast Frontiers podcast to share his insight into tech investing.
Recognized by Forbes magazine as one of the “World’s Top 50 Women in Tech," entrepreneur and investor at Dubai's Global Ventures, Noor Sweid joins the Fast Frontiers podcast. Sweid shares insight on tech investing and how encouraging entrepreneurship can foster youth job growth in unexpected places.
Developing rubber from sunflowers
Steve Case and the Rust Belt
Steve Case talks about his investing hypothesis: Rust Belt cities and corporate towns in the Midwest are a value play—you get a better deal on a startup in Cleveland than in Cupertino, because there's less competition.
Mach9 Robotics and Moonpy took the top spots for the graduate and undergraduate tracks in this year’s Carnegie Mellon University Swartz Center McGinnis Venture Competition.
What is fueling Flyover Country innovation? In this weekly feature, we share a variety of announcements covering funding, acquisitions, exits, grants, and everything in between. Got something to celebrate? Click here to share your story.
- Ohio's Third Frontier program announced a $46 million investment in 100 small companies, helping establish Northeast Ohio as a high-tech and health innovation hub.
Louisville, KY-based Appriss Health, a leader in cloud-based care coordination software and analytics solutions focused on behavioral health and substance use disorders, has acquired PatientPing.
- St. Louis VC firm RiverVest Venture Partners closed on of its RiverVest Venture Fund V, with $275 million of capital commitments to continue investing in high-impact biopharma and medical device innovation.
- Demonstrating the role that higher education and the state can play in building tech-based economic development in rural communities, Ohio University-supported Stirling Ultracold has been acquired by publicly traded BioLife Solutions.
It's time for our favorite trivia game!
Here are this week's questions:
- What was Bloody Island and where was it located?
- James H. Suttle served as mayor of this city from 2009-2013. While many politicians come from a law background, Suttle didn’t. In what city did he serve as mayor and what was his background?
- The USS Cod is a World War II submarine that is now a museum in what city?
Click here for today's answers.
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