Northwestern alums semifinalists in Wall Street Journal startup contest

Kendra Mayer, Reporter

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A medical startup founded by two Northwestern graduates has qualified as one of five semifinalists in a startup contest sponsored by The Wall Street Journal.

SwipeSense, created by Mert Iseri (McCormick ’11) and Yuri Malina (Weinberg ’11), provides hospital staff with portable, trackable hand-sanitation devices to help prevent hospital-acquired infections.

SwipeSense easily attaches to a user’s belt, where it delivers hand sanitizer at a swipe of one’s hand. The pager-sized dispensers, equipped with real time data, also monitor how often its users sanitize their hands and sends the data information wirelessly.

At NU, Iseri and Malina were the co-founders of Design for America. The two used their backgrounds in science, engineering and design to start their company.

The project’s goal is to reduce deaths from infection. About one out of every 20 patients will contract a hospital-associated infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 100,000 deaths in the U.S. alone are a result of the infections.

Northwestern Memorial Hospital is already implementing the technology. In an interview on the competition’s website, Iseri said 65 percent of staff in a hospital unit are using SwipeSense.

SwipeSense initially was one of the 24 contestants chosen from a pool of more than 500 applicants for the WSJ Startup of the Year competition. Entrepreneurs were evaluated based on the “firms’ scalability, long-term viability, originality and distinctiveness of their products and services, utility and ability to perform tasks” by the WSJ editors and startup mentors, according to the contest’s website.

Readers can watch a documentary about SwipeSense’s journey and interact with the founders on The Wall Street Journal’s website.

The winner will be announced Nov. 4.

— Kendra Mayer