Last week, the Clinton Foundation and Verizon announced the winning teams of the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) 2021 Social Innovation Challenge. Among the winners was recent eLab alumni team (Class of 2021), Vita Innovations. The Cornell based student startup has created a smart mask that addresses the problems of emergency room overcrowding by continuously monitoring the vitals of patients waiting in the emergency room and alerting medical personnel of life-threatening emergencies.    

Vita Innovations is currently comprised of CEO, Longsha Liu ’20; CFO, Julia Isakov ’21; Chief Design Officer, Kristen Ong ’21; and team members, Ray Wei ’21, Daniel Stabile ’21, Sarah Luo ’20, and Borna Naderi ’22. Liu was recently featured in the weekly “Conversations on Leadership” from Liu was inspired to create VitalMask after witnessing emergency room overcrowding firsthand while volunteering.

“Sometimes patients end up waiting four to 12 hours without monitoring. During this time, symptoms can worsen. Assuming the hospital has a resource, a nurse will monitor or check up on those waiting patients once an hour or once every other hour. That’s not enough for a continual progression. What happens is that there are long-lasting morbidities or mortalities as a result of unnoticed clinical deterioration that we need to care about,” shared Liu with

In addition to monitoring patients for signs of clinical deterioration, Vita Innovations envisions additional possibilities for its technology.

“We’re also thinking about applications not just in the context of waiting rooms. So we’re looking at firefighters who wear gasket-sealed masks in certain fire environments. We’re looking at the military or EPA employees who work in hazardous or in chemical environments,” said Liu.

“We can embed our sensor technology with a customizable software application. So while we’re homing in on this clinical angle, we’re also thinking ahead about developing and broadening our reach.

Vita Innovations was one of 14 teams selected for the CGI U 2021 Social Innovation Challenge in May 2021. Selected teams received grant funding and hands-on entrepreneurial training from the program’s startup accelerator partner, VentureWell. At the end of the program, the teams had the opportunity to pitch their solutions for a chance to win an additional $20,000 in seed funding and sponsorship in continued programming from VentureWell. Vita Innovations was one of the winning teams announced cy Chelsea Clinton last week (click here for video of the announcement).