Mannino Wins Cisco Global Problem Solver Prize


Walter Rich

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Smartphone app that measures blood hemoglobin levels takes $100,000 prize in Rice University Business Plan Competition

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  • Robert Mannino and Prateek Mittal holding their $100,000 Cisco check. Robert Mannino and Prateek Mittal holding their $100,000 Cisco check.

This year’s Cisco Global Problem Solver Prize was won by Robert Mannino and Prateek Mittal, two students from Georgia Tech, for Mannino’s smartphone app that measures blood hemoglobin levels. They won the $100,000 prize at the 17th annual Rice University Business Plan Competition held April 5-8, in Houston, Texas. The competition is the world’s richest and largest graduate-level student startup competition with submissions from close to 400 student teams from around the world. This is the second time that Mannino’s invention has won $100,000 in a competition.


Mannino, a biomedical engineering Ph.D. student and co-inventor, teamed with Mittal, an MBA student in the Scheller College of Business, joining forces in the business school’s Ti:GER program. TI:GER teams work together in the classroom and research lab to learn how to advance early-stage research into real business opportunities.


“This competition was almost overwhelming—it was massive and intense. Our team, Lunula Health, gave four separate pitches to investors, venture capitalists and scientists,” said Mannnio. “We were so excited and surprised when we learned that we had won the Cisco prize. We felt that our invention was truly a global product with the potential to help many people around the world.”


Wilbur Lam, associate professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, is Mannino’s thesis advisor, co-inventor for the smartphone app, and faculty advisor for the Ti:GER team. Erika Tyburski, chief operating officer for Sanguina, also served as a mentor to the team.


Mannino was diagnosed with anemia at six months of age, and he still needs blood transfusions every three to four weeks. His Ph.D. project focused on perfecting a diagnostic tool that works with a smartphone camera. Fast forwarding to the present, he has invented a non-invasive, low-cost, home test for anemia. Globally, anemia affects 1.6 billion people.


“Anemia is a symptom of many diseases, of malnourishment, of vitamin deficiency. A lot of different people are affected or potentially could be,” Mannino says. “And a lot of those people have more access to a smartphone than they do to a physician’s office.”


Note: Earlier this year, Robert Mannino also won the 2017 Student Technology Prize for Primary Healthcare which also earned him a $100,000 prize.


About the Cisco Global Problem Solver Prize

Cisco is the worldwide leader in IT that helps companies seize the opportunities of tomorrow by proving that amazing things can happen when you connect the previously unconnected. The $100,000 Cisco Global Problem Solver prize aims to recognize entrepreneurs that promote and accelerate the adoption of breakthrough technologies, products and services that capture the value of technological innovation to benefit society. Cisco seeks to empower a generation of global problem-solvers especially in the areas of connectivity, health care, the environment, critical human needs, education, and connected/smart solutions (for example, smart home, smart city, smart energy, connected transportation and wearables). Special consideration will be given to businesses that capture this value while simultaneously benefiting society and/or the environment.




Walter Rich
Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology

Additional Information


Wallace H. Coulter Dept. of Biomedical Engineering

Biotechnology, Health, Bioengineering, Genetics
Related Core Research Areas
Bioengineering and Bioscience
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  • Created By: Walter Rich
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Apr 20, 2018 - 10:47am
  • Last Updated: Oct 3, 2018 - 9:30am