A teen ad­vanc­ing med tech

At 15, this young en­tre­pre­neur will soon have an EpiPen for di­a­betes on the mar­ket

The Kids Post - - Disruptors - By Chris Suppa

“I’ve been able to cre­ate some­thing that I think is cool and will im­pact peo­ple’s lives.”

In­no­va­tion is of­ten born of ne­ces­sity, and that is cer­tainly the case when it comes to the work of 15-year-old en­tre­pre­neur and Up­per Canada Col­lege ( UCC) stu­dent Shaan Hooey.

His younger sis­ter was di­ag­nosed with Type 1 di­a­betes at age four, foist­ing fi­nan­cial pres­sure and un­due stress on the fam­ily.

If his sis­ter’s blood sugar gets dan­ger­ously low, she’ll need a glucagon in­jec­tion, which re­vives some­one in a vul­ner­a­ble di­a­betic state but takes a five-minute, five-step process to ad­min­is­ter. And that wasn’t good enough for Hooey.

“You can imag­ine, in emer­gency sit­u­a­tions like that, a glucagon in­jec­tion kit is prob­a­bly not the best de­vice, con­sid­er­ing the time it takes to in­ject,” Hooey says. “I thought about re­pur­pos­ing the de­vice, us­ing a con­cept sim­i­lar to the EpiPen.”

Hooey de­vel­oped his con­cept last sum­mer at the Ry­er­son DMZ Base­camp — a six- week ac­cel­er­a­tor pro­gram that men­tors high school and univer­sity stu­dents and helps them gain mar­ket and cus­tomer val­i­da­tion for their in­no­va­tive ideas. Hooey made it to the pitch stage and won $5,000 for his work.

He is also a mem­ber of an exclusive com­pany/in­cu­ba­tor called the Knowl­edge So­ci­ety that sup­ports the best and bright­est young in­no­va­tors and en­trepreneurs across On­tario.

Glu­caMed, Hooey’s pro­posed model, is a dual-cham­ber auto-in­jec­tor that takes 30 sec­onds and just three steps to ad­min­is­ter: twist off the safety cap; pull the nee­dle out to pierce the plas­tic mem­brane mix­ing the two glucagon-form­ing com­pounds; then in­ject.

“I’ve been able to cre­ate some­thing that I think is cool and that will im­pact peo­ple’s lives.”

Hooey is now work­ing to­ward selling the de­vice to com­pa­nies cur­rently in the mar­ket but sees other po­ten­tial ap­pli­ca­tions for the dual-cham­ber auto-in­jec­tor tech­nol­ogy.

As for the fu­ture, Hooey sees his ca­reer path as a hy­brid of en­gi­neer and en­tre­pre­neur, cre­at­ing fea­si­ble and prac­ti­cal prod­ucts while think­ing big pic­ture and get­ting in­vestors in­volved.

“Engi­neer­ing in a broad sense teaches you the proper way to think,” Hooey says, “and if I com­bine that with busi­ness, I think that will set me up the best for an en­tre­pre­neur­ial ven­ture be­cause I’ll have the skills to think around prob­lems.”

En­trepreneur­ship isn’t Hooey’s only fo­cus, how­ever. He’s also mak­ing a dif­fer­ence at his school. In Grade 9, he and a fel­low class­mate started the Amnesty In­ter­na­tional Club, with the goal of get­ting the UCC school com­mu­nity more in­volved in im­por­tant na­tional is­sues such as the ten­sion in the re­la­tion­ship be­tween In­dige­nous and non- In­dige­nous Cana­di­ans.

“You can’t re­ally fo­cus on is­sues out­side of Canada when you haven’t even ad­dressed one of the big­gest prob­lems in Cana­dian so­ci­ety to­day,” Hooey says.

He was in­spired by the ac­tions of the soc­cer team at Bishop Mar­rocco/Thomas Mer­ton Catholic Sec­ondary School, which in 2016 trav­elled to At­tawapiskat — the First Na­tion com­mu­nity that ex­pe­ri­enced a sui­cide cri­sis — and taught lo­cal chil­dren soc­cer. That cre­ated a bond be­tween school and com­mu­nity, and for the past two years, Hooey has worked to­ward a sim­i­lar goal. He’s cre­ated a coun­cil that dis­cusses the need for true rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

“Ul­ti­mately, we may not be guilty for op­press­ing In­dige­nous peo­ple,” Hooey says, “but we are all re­spon­si­ble to be a part of the so­lu­tion.”

Hooey says that jug­gling school work, com­mu­nity ser­vice and his en­tre­pre­neur­ial as­pi­ra­tions hasn’t been dif­fi­cult — in fact, most of his UCC teach­ers don’t even know about his busi­ness.

But he def­i­nitely has role mod­els to look up to: namely, Elon Musk. Hooey hopes to model him­self af­ter the SpaceX founder, de­scrib­ing how Musk dreams big but also makes those dreams a re­al­ity.

“[He has] taken so many risks, al­most lost it all nu­mer­ous times, and even still he pushes through with the most am­bi­tious pro­jects ever,” Hooey says of Musk.

And even though Hooey is more than 30 years younger than Musk, the high schooler doesn’t see age as a bar­rier. He en­cour­ages other young en­trepreneurs to see their ideas through while they’re un­en­cum­bered by the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of adult­hood.

“No mat­ter how young you are, you don’t have to use your age as a dis­ad­van­tage or a rea­son why you can’t do some­thing,” Hooey says. “The im­pact you can still make is tremen­dous.”

With his level of am­bi­tion and his skills, Hooey sees no rea­son why he can’t be at the fore­front of Cana­dian in­no­va­tion when he “grows up,” so to speak.

“Ul­ti­mately, I want to be some­one who pushes the ideas for­ward that I think are go­ing to make the big­gest change in the world.”

Hooey (L) with the fund­ing his project re­ceived from Ry­er­son’s in­cu­ba­tor pro­gram

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