JAZ Tank: CannaVATION Explores the Future of Medicinal Cannabis and Industrial Hemp
From scratch and sniff labels for cannabis, to cannabis- and hemp-infused sunflower seed butter and hemp-laced towels, seven teams from across the United States and Canada pitched their ideas on the future of medicinal cannabis and industrial hemp at the University’s JAZ Tank: CannaVATION.
The winning concept, an algorithm to speed up the cannabis strain selection process for patients in medicinal cannabis dispensaries, won $10,000 in financial support, plus business mentorship, legal support and business consultation from Jefferson.
“Whenever new paths forward for innovation overlap with great human needs, entrepreneurs will emerge with great ideas,” says Rose Ritts, MS, PhD, chief innovation officer at Jefferson. “That’s definitely where we are right now with medicinal cannabis and industrial hemp.
Our annual healthcare startup competition left the theme for pitches open-ended in years past; however, we narrowed the focus this time to these two exploding sectors. We received nearly 100 submissions to compete from the United States and Canada.
Participants each had 10 minutes to pitch their idea to a panel of judges, with a short Q&A following. The judges scored the teams on market opportunity, clarity of market entry strategy, capability of the team, financials and strength of their presentation.
Pharmacist Kit Poon, from Edmonton, Canada, bested the other six finalists with ARBR. His team created an algorithm designed to personalize medical cannabis treatment based on demographics, medical conditions, preferences and budget needs. The algorithm also can take feedback of its initial strain and dose recommendation and continue to adjust dosing and strain selection as it learns more about the patient’s needs.
“The next step for the company is getting more exposure and further driving the business in terms of adoption rate for the software, as well as getting this clinical tool into clinicians’ hands,” says Poon, noting the diversity of the cannabis landscape. “It’s a tremendous time to jump in and put your ideas to the test.”
Marsha Simmons, a clinical research coordinator at Jefferson’s Diabetes Research Center, said she benefited from the networking and comparing her presentation to the other groups. Her team, Hampons, pitched hemp-based tampons with cannabidiol to ease menstrual cramps.
“This was a great opportunity for everybody to show their wares and get feedback,” says CannaVATION judge and University alumnus David Tuttleman ’83, trustee of the Tuttleman Foundation—which sponsored the event—and CEO of Matrix NV, a cannabis grower and producer in Nevada. “Everybody getting up there is a winner.”