Walleye Tank: COVID-19 Showcase

Jordyn Reed
Updated: May 15, 2020 10:37 PM
Created: May 15, 2020 08:32 PM

(ABC 6 News) - Innovators, keynote speakers, and educators gathered on Friday for the virtual Walleye Tank: COVID-19 Showcase.

The event is hosted by Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota and typically it's an in-person pitch competition, similar to the hit ABC show, 'Shark Tank,' but due to the pandemic, the event needed to adapt. 

"This event helped showcase that there is so much ingenuity among our Minnesotan neighbors and who really feel like we are deeply one Minnesota," Benya Kraus, Lead for Minnesota executive director, said.

This year's format allowed the event to expand its pool of applicants and the goal was to find participants who are stepping up to conquer COVID-19 challenges. 

The topics were split up into three sessions: Diagnosing the virus and understanding spread, PPE and public safety, and resiliency in the community.

Dr. Erik Beall is the CEO of Thermal DX and his presentation was on the Fever Inspect.

"[It] is a non-contact, high volume screening method," Dr. Beall said. "It's widely used across Asia and previous and current outbreaks to accurately identify feverish individuals. We have a very unique design in several aspects and when it comes out on the market it will be the most accurate, easiest to use, simple and self-calibrating most importantly."

The first session ended with Kraus' presentation on workforce personnel.

"What tougher challenge around workforce than our contact-tracing workforce?" Kraus asked during the event. "National estimates say that we are in need of a contact tracing workforce of 300,000 people over the next 12 to 18 months."

Although the event could not be held in person, the innovators were able to collaborate through a digital medium all in an effor to move forward.

"I think it just speaks to the nature of Minnesotans to be able to come together locally, with our neighbors and say, 'hey, how can we respond?" Kraus said. "How can we innovate and do something new and be of service to our neighbors?"

Beall added that these types of events help get entrepreneurs, and new entrepreneurs in particular, exposed to the wider world because, "it's expensive and hard to generate awareness for you because there's just so much going on."

This year, the event did not have a winner but it still had the same end goal as years past. 

"This is all about feeding forward the entrepreneur ecosystem and the innovations space because we know that getting out of COVID is not a short term solution," Dr. Stephen Ekker, director of the Mayo Clinic Office of Entrepreneurship, said. "It's going to take all of us working together but we can innovate out of it  and we can make a better future out of this, not just going back to normal but making a new normal that's better."

To watch the full showcase or learn more about Walleye Tank, click here.

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