A Dalhousie University student will be representing Canada at the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards with his inspired drive to ease the burden of respiratory illness in others.
Entering his final year in medical school at the esteemed Halifax post-secondary institution, David Hodgson was one of the top two winners to be awarded the national prize purse of $100,000 by the judges at the EO Canada GSEA’s National Championship in July.
As part of the elite winners at the premier contest for students who operate a business while still attending school, Hodgson will now go on to represent Canada at the Global Finals competition in spring 2023.
“My whole life — particularly as an engineer and then going into medicine — I’ve been looking for opportunities to have an impact,” says the student and founder of Hollo Medical.
“A lot of times you try to solve something and you think this is important, (but) you don’t realize until you go through these types of competitions (that) it’s not just impactful in my own circle or in Halifax, it’s impactful across the country and the world — so that’s huge.”
Hodgson started up Hollo Medical in 2021 after his father found himself struggling by a functionally limiting respiratory illness. A lifelong innovator, Hodgson soon set out to create a device that would help his father and others like him cope with their specific challenges.
“What was happening to my dad sort of brought to light the impact that breathing has on anyone,” says Hodgson. “We underestimate how important it is to be able to breathe comfortably or normally or passively without even thinking about it.”
Hodgson discovered many inhaler users were frustrated and challenged with cumbersome valved holding chambers that are commonly recommended to assist with optimal administration of medicine delivery in inhalers.
He says because of its larger size, appearance and other issues, patients often avoid using the chamber, which can be as large as a water bottle.
“The intent was to take that device and essentially reinvent it so it could fit in a pocket like a cell phone so that’s what we did,” notes Hodgson, adding that market research revealed several other challenges with the device. “So (we added) a bunch of innovative nuances, (and) the best way that I can describe it is, to reduce the burden of the illness on the patient.”
While the development may seem simple enough, it certainly caught the attention of the judges at the GSEA’s National Championship, who chose Hodgson to compete against the most accomplished student entrepreneurs from more than 50 countries.
While the prospect of competing on the world stage may intimidate some, Hodgson is taking it all in stride. After all, Hollo Medical isn’t even Hodgson’s first breakthrough in the medical field.
While working at a Halifax-based start-up, the mechanical engineer invented a delivery system that helped interventional radiologists treat liver cancer. That experience not only led him into the medical field, but it would prove to direct Hodgson to discover his life’s purpose.
“It was sort of a realization that there were some very impactful problems — like that one for example — within medicine with such a complexity to them, that I felt I wanted a deeper level of understanding and appreciation for them so that I could solve them.”
For more information on Hollo Medical, visit the website.