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Innovationology: Where creativity comes to life

Innovationology: Where creativity comes to life

Ever notice when using eyedrops that there seems to be too much liquid coming out with each drop, causing excess fluid to run down your face?

Well, as it turns out, you are not alone — and with each over-sized drop, consumers are stuck paying the bill for the wasted medication.

In late 2017, Allisa Song, then a research scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle, came across an article from the investigative news organization ProPublica that revealed just how big of a problem this was for patients, especially those suffering from glaucoma.

“I thought it was ridiculous that people were having to balance whether they are going to pay for rent or they are going to keep their vision,” said Allisa, now a medical student living in Rochester. “That is why we created the Nanodropper.”

The Nanodropper — developed by Alissa and a few of her classmates from Washington — is a universal adapter designed to replace the drug company-installed nozzle that produces over-sized drops.

The concept is simple, yet highly practical. The adapter fits the threading of the top five biggest brands for eyedrops. And with no incentives for drug companies to change the size of the dropper, Alissa says the Nanodropper has the potential to return the purchasing power back to the patient.

“We would love people who are making money in the healthcare field,” she said, “to think — what are the needs of the patients?”

The Nanodropper will be among the innovations being featured at the third annual Innovationology, benefiting the Minnesota Children's Museum Rochester. The event — which celebrates the ingenuity that happens in right here in our own community every day — is set for May 16 from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at the Castle Community building in downtown Rochester.

Innovators range from established local businesses like Limb Lamb, to those such as the Nanodropper that are just starting out. (Allisa and her business partner, Elias Baker, a mechanical engineer who also moved to Rochester, hope to have the product available for sale by this fall.)

At the event, each innovator will be paired with trailblazing chefs and mixologists from the community — creating a multi-sensory experience.

“Innovationology is unlike any other event in our community,” says Melissa Brinkman, a local business owner and co-chair of the Minnesota Children’s Museum Advisory Board. “We are excited to build on last year’s tremendous success in supporting Minnesota Children’s Museum Rochester’s vital mission for families in our region, as well as to showcase the incredible, forward thinking talent from our city in a creative and playful way.”

You can visit the museum’s website for event details and to purchase tickets for this one of a kind experience in creativity in brain, beverages and bites.

Innovator spotlight: Alieneagrams

The aces of last year’s Techstar’s Startup Weekend Rochester will be debuting a card game designed to teach empathy and understanding.

“Alieneagrams,” as it’s called, is based on the Enneagram personality typing system. The game works by having a player choose a card with one of the nine personality types. That player then either acts or talks out the personality type in a specific scenario while others guess.

A prototype of the game was first created at Startup Weekend by James Perreault, Grace Pesch and Jay Franson. Since the event, which took place last October, Grace and Jay have been working to bring the idea to life.

“We think that this card game is not only a way for people to learn about the Enneagram, but it’s also a way for people to build empathy,” Grace told us. “If you can walk through scenarios about how a specific person would react to that scenario, it can be a way to better understand them and put yourselves in their shoes.”

To develop illustrations for the cards, Grace and Jay worked with local artist Matt Holt of Sacred Heart Studios. Aliens were chosen, rather than humans, to avoid strereotyping people based on appearance.

At the Innovationology event, Grace and Jay will be dealing out cards to anyone interested in playing. They told us they plan to use the feedback they receive from the event to decide how to move their idea forward.

Full list of 2019 innovators

  • Spark DJ

  • IBM

  • Rochester Home Infusion

  • Limb Lab

  • Adam Salmi

  • Crenlo

  • Vyriad Inc

  • Nannodropper

  • Textile Care Services

  • Alieneagrams

  • Jason Robinson

  • Peter Steiner

Food and Beverage artists

  • Grand Rounds Brewing Company & Restaurant

  • Fiddlehead Coffee Co.

  • Bleu Duck Kitchen

  • Café Steam

  • People's Food Co-op

  • Hot Chip Burger Bar

  • Forager

  • Drift Dough

  • Pasquale's Neighborhood Pizzeria

  • Marrow

  • LTS Brewery

  • Little Thistle Brewing

  • Tonic

  • Cameo

  • Bitter and Pour

  • Choochoo-ca-Chew

Cover: Jay and Grace (left) with Allisa and Elias / photo by William Forsman

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Cover photo by William Forsman

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