Getting the proper care and services to evacuees during a natural disaster can be as frustrating as trying to put together a puzzle, but the solution developed by a team of six innovators during a 48-hour “hackathon” in June 2018 not only earned the $25,000 first prize, it might just solve the puzzle of shelter management for good.
The problem is pretty simple, but deadly serious. Not only is shelter communication and management inherently inefficient — intake information is collected on paper and supplies are requested via phone — but the limitations of the system make tracking potential outbreaks in the shelters nearly impossible.
So presented with the puzzle at the 2018 Southeast Startup Challenge Summit, a problem-solving competition funded by a $550,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to the College of Allied Health Sciences in partnership with the Clubhou.se, an Augusta-based innovation center, the team of six — four from the Medical College of Georgia — created DisasterMed, software that allows information to be collected via tablet, where it can then be transmitted to the Department of Public Health, other supporting agencies and other shelters, should an evacuee need to relocate.
With the prize money, the group formed R6 Industries with the hope of turning DisasterMed into a marketable product — and potentially a full-time job.
“Running a company is a whole new set of problems,” said Kyle Dymanus, a second-year medical student who’s currently serving as R6 Industries’ CEO. “Not all of us are students — there are people on our team who are working full time — so between our whole team, we still have other commitments. But we do really care about this product, and we’re not hesitating to put the time in.”
This kind of innovative thinking is part of the culture of MCG. For the past three years, IncubatorX, a student-run organization, has been inspiring innovation by hosting regular events and connecting entrepreneurially minded students with the resources they need to succeed. Perhaps not surprisingly, three of the R6 Industries co-founders are on the executive board.