Three Lakes Partners Announces Winners of $1,000,000 IPF Catalyst Challenge

Advanced Interactive Response Systems (AIRS), Owlstone Medical & patientMpower Awarded $333,333 each in First-of-its-Kind, Global Healthcare Competition; Level Ex Receives $50,000 Audience Choice Award

January 15, 2018

CHICAGO, Jan. 25, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Three Lakes Partners, a venture philanthropy committed to ending Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), named Advanced Interactive Response Systems (AIRS), Owlstone Medical and patientMpower the winners of its $1,000,000 IPF Catalyst Challenge last night during a live finalist pitch event at MATTER‘s Chicago headquarters.  Level Ex was honored with the event’s Audience Choice Award.

The ambitious healthcare competition invited innovators from around the world to develop real, executable solutions to help change the many quality-of-life issues affecting patients living with IPF.  Each of the three winning teams received a $333,333 award which they will use to further develop the following ideas:

Advanced Interactive Response Systems (AIRS)
Proposed solution: Produce high-quality, portable oxygen safety and monitoring products that improve IPF patient health and caregiver performance.

Owlstone Medical
Proposed solution: A system used to capture breath samples and test for the presence of trace chemicals related to disease activity, for the early detection of IPF.

Proposed solution: A mobile platform that enables IPF patients to track their disease using integrated monitors, allowing them to better manage their treatment through new insights and connections with peers and caregivers.

As the winner of the competition’s Audience Choice Award, Level Ex received $50,000 to educate the global physician community about IPF by using lifelike, virtual patients in a mobile video game to improve clinical decision-making at the point of care.

The other finalists that took part in the IPF Catalyst Challenge pitch event included the American Thoracic SocietyCambridge Respiratory Innovations LimitedDolby VivisolMayo Clinic Rochester, and the University of Chicago Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) Team.

“We created the IPF Catalyst Challenge on behalf of the countless patients around the world living with this largely ignored, heartbreaking disease.  By collaborating with brilliant minds and innovative thinkers across the globe, we knew we could attack IPF from all sides and truly make progress,” said Ken Bahk PhD, managing director, Three Lakes Partners.  “We couldn’t be more thankful for the inspiring ideas we saw over the course of this competition, and are honored to help bring our winners’ solutions to life. We’re excited for the promise that lies ahead.”

“This challenge brought some of the world’s best innovators to Chicago to make a difference for those suffering from IPF,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Congratulations to the winners and we look forward to seeing the difference you can collectively make in tackling this disease; and a special thanks to Three Lakes Partners and MATTER for your dedication to improving the lives of so many individuals and families across the world.”

Winners’ Quotes

Advanced Interactive Response Systems (AIRS) Founder and CEO Valerie Obenchain said: “AIRS is honored to be a winner of the IPF Catalyst Challenge. We saw an unmet need in oxygen therapy for IPF patients and knew we could make a big difference in their quality of life, and even save lives with our solution. AIRS products ensure the proper amount of oxygen is being delivered by monitoring the oxygen supply and the oxygen user in real time.  We’re excited to partner with others who share the same goal of improving the quality of life for IPF patients.”

Owlstone Medical Co-Founder and CEO Billy Boyle said: “We are thrilled to win this award which recognizes the potential of our Breath Biopsy platform for the early detection of IPF. Breath Biopsy is already being used in clinical trials for a wide range of cancers, including lung and colorectal cancer, and has recently been integrated into a major clinical development program for a novel drug candidate for respiratory disease. In taking this step towards a Breathalyzer for IPF, we look forward to making a similar contribution to finding quality-of-life solutions for this devastating disease, and continue to work towards our vision of saving 100,000 lives and $1.5B in healthcare costs.”

patientMpower CEO Eamonn Costello said: “Winning the IPF Catalyst Challenge is a pivotal moment for patientMpower and our mission to empower patients, those PF warriors, to live better with IPF. This funding will also be the catalyst for us to fully realize the potential of our digital biobank — data donated by all the PF warriors which is an amazing resource for IPF research.  Through collaborations, we will continue to uncover new insights to map IPF human health. We would like to thank all those behind the IPF Catalyst Challenge for giving us this amazing opportunity to empower patients, to improve outcomes, and to accelerate research.”

Level Ex Founder and CEO Sam Glassenberg said: “We are honored to be selected as the Audience Choice Award Winner. Knowing that the IPF community sees the tremendous potential that our professional video games have to revolutionize medical training truly energizes our team. We are excited to move ahead and develop virtual patient cases that teach physicians how to successfully detect and treat IPF.”

What is IPF?
IPF is an irreversible, unpredictable, and incurable interstitial lung disease that kills about the same number of people each year as breast cancer. Without any known cause, it starts with scarring – or stiffening – of the lung tissue that prohibits the lungs from properly moving oxygen into the bloodstream, resulting in labored inhalation that is often likened to the sensation of breathing through a coffee stirrer.

The chronic illness is difficult to diagnose, and takes an average of 26 months from the first appearance of symptoms to confirm that a patient has IPF.  The disease progresses differently in every patient but ultimately never improves, and is typically fatal within three to five years of diagnosis.  Approximately 132,000 people in the US are living with IPF, and roughly 40,000 die from the disease annually.

In addition to suffering from an impaired quality of life, IPF patients and their families are burdened with archaic oxygen management issues that force many to remain homebound; a lack of consistent education materials; and no real comprehensive care management tools.

What is the IPF Catalyst Challenge?
First announced in April 2017, the IPF Catalyst Challenge sought to change these quality-of-life issues by seeking global innovators, entrepreneurs, engineers, and designers passionate about problem solving to develop real, executable solutions in categories that included: Early Diagnosis & Detection; Patient Education & Engagement; Oxygen Improvement; and Improving the Care Continuum.

Hundreds of registrants applied, and more than 80 final submissions came in across categories including analytics, engagement, education, monitoring and coordination. The Challenge’s nine finalists pitched their proposed solutions to a Selection Committee in front of an audience that included IPF patients; caregivers and advocates; other entrepreneurs and innovators; and members of the business and investment community.

The IPF Catalyst Challenge is one of the largest healthcare competitions in the United States, and the first time a cash and incentive purse of this magnitude has been put in place to help people with IPF.  Three Lakes Partners collaborated with MATTER, the healthcare technology incubator and innovation hub; IDEO an award-winning global design and innovation consultancy; and Common Pool, renowned for creating competitions to solve the world’s most challenging problems to establish the competition.

To stay informed about the IPF Catalyst Challenge’s ongoing work, visit, and follow @IPFCatalyst on Twitter and IPF Catalyst on Facebook.

About Three Lakes Partners
Three Lakes Partners, LLC is a venture philanthropy whose mission is to accelerate the development of promising technologies for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF). Three Lakes Partners provides not only financial support, but also operational leverage via partnership with a greater network of IPF resources worldwide. Visit for more information.

SOURCE Three Lakes Partners

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