UNSW Medical Student Startup AYCA Wins Dean of Medicine Award for Innovative Support of Eating Disorder Patients

After over two years of COVID disruptions, the Peter Farrell Cup - UNSW Founders' flagship student pitch competition, saw ten finalists grace the main stage of NIDA to a full house. NIDA came alive for the PFC’s twenty-second year, hosting over 380 students, researchers, alumni, parents, staff and well-wishers who filled the auditorium

| 07 Jun 2022

Professor Phoebe Phillips awarded the Dean of Medicine Award at the Peter Farrell Cup UNSW's most prestigious startup idea pitch competition, helping students and HDR candidates become the next generation of entrepreneurs.

“Our partnership with the UNSW Founders Program is empowering fourteen Faculty of Medicine & Health students to tackle considerable health and society challenges through innovative business solutions,” says Professor Phillips, Associate Dean of Partnerships from UNSW Medicine and Health.

“The theatre was filled with excitement as the top 10 entrepreneurial teams confidently pitched their innovations,” observed Professor Phillips. “The depth and breadth of innovations were impressive. From recycling orange peel to generate a vegan form of leather (Veather) to supporting multidisciplinary care for patients with eating disorders (AYCA)”.

The winner of the Dean of Medicine Award was AYCA.  

“Congratulations to BMed students – Gary Huang, Jumpei Takeuchi and Sophie Yip. Our inspiring and highly motivated students are also completing their medical degrees at UNSW. Despite their hectic schedules the AYCA team are passionate to have a real impact and overcome the devastating effects seen when patients with eating disorders have no access to essential multi-disciplinary care. It is critical to provide a system to support seamless linkage to mental health support, dietary support and general practitioner support. AYCA’s product aims to deliver this – and overcome the billions of dollars lost as a result of poor collaborations in this area of health,” says Prof Phillips.

The co-founders of AYCA offered the following advice to aspiring entrepreneurs:

What does the Dean of Medicine award mean to you?

We are very appreciative of this award and it serves as a recognition of the importance of the work we are doing. Eating disorder patients are an under-served group in our community and multidisciplinary care is crucial for optimal management. We believe that our current resources can be better arranged to improve the outcomes and healthcare experience for patients and healthcare professionals.

What inspired you to become entrepreneurs? How did the Founders Program support you?

We had never intended to be entrepreneurs when we started. Our team members were individually motivated by our own personal experiences of friends or family members with eating disorders. We came in wanting to understand the issues that patients and healthcare professionals are facing and see if we could develop a product which could meet those needs. The team at the Founders Program were always encouraging and keen to support us any way they can and this has been instrumental in helping us learn how to actualise our ideas and share this vision we had with others. In particular, the program paired us with an industry mentor that was once in the same position as us that could provide us with the invaluable guidance we needed - from navigating regulatory processes to developing a winning pitch. Through this, we realised that entrepreneurship is more than just starting a business but involves innovation, resourcefulness and adaptability.

Do you have any tips for our Faculty of Medicine & Health staff/students?

Don't be afraid to put yourself out there and take any experience, failure or success, as opportunities to learn and grow.

The Faculty of Medicine & Health looks forward to strengthening and supporting our innovation and entrepreneurial culture to ensure we continue to improve health outcomes globally.

Contact AYCA or find out more about PFC Finals Night 2022.