Thursday, December 8, 2022

Hawkeye Surgical Lighting, a University of Iowa startup founded by neurosurgery resident David Christianson and medical student Anthony Piscopo, won $100,000 at the first InnoVenture Challenge at Temple Theatre on Dec. 7 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Hawkeye Surgical Lighting developed the first voice- and motion-controlled surgical headlight that integrates with an iOS through Bluetooth.

InnoVenture Iowa invited the best early-stage entrepreneurs to participate in its challenge, a pitch competition that brought together three startup companies to compete on-stage for the $100,000 award. Other finalists were The Hummingbirds, a platform that enables businesses and organizations to find and work with hyper-local content creators to drive revenue and recognition, and Clayton Farms (formerly Nebullam), which builds vertically integrated, direct-to-consumer indoor farms serving customers in Ames, Iowa and Minneapolis.

Christianson and Piscopo identified and addressed a need of surgeons for a light, bright, and comfortable pair of surgical eyeglasses. The two built Hawkeye Surgical Lighting with Christianson taking the technical and Piscopo the entrepreneurial lead. When a surgeon shines a light toward a patient’s brain or spine, the tumor lights up in a bright red color. This allows the surgeon to carefully remove the entire tumor.

You want to get a clean margin because if you don’t, it is going to grow back,” said Piscopo. “If you are too aggressive and take too much out, you can damage the brain or spine. This technology to fluoresently visualize tumors is currently only available in big surgical microscopes. It has never been incorporated in a headlight before.”

Until now.

Not only is the light brighter, lighter, and more comfortable than anything else available, but it can also be controlled in unique hands-free way.

The thing that is novel is the way you are able to control it with your voice and body position,” Christianson said.

Hawkeye Surgical Lighting was named Student Startup of the Year in 2021 by the University of Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center.

InnoVenture Iowa is a $30 million co-investment fund designed to support early-stage startup companies in biosciences, advanced manufacturing, and information technology. Eligible companies must be headquartered, or have significant operations, in Iowa. 

Click HERE to visit the Hawkeye Surgical Lighting website.