UNMC innovator accepted into national entrepreneurship program


Breanna Hetland

Breanna Hetland, PhD, RN

OMAHA, Nebraska (January 16, 2023)—Breanna Hetland, PhD, has been accepted into a competitive national entrepreneur-mentoring program that could help boost her innovations in Intensive Care Units everywhere.

Dr. Hetland, Assistant Professor in the UNMC College of Nursing, invented a digital platform called Remote ICU. The software solution enables and promotes more robust patient and family engagement during acute hospitalizations. Dr. Hetland’s innovation is the basis of her startup company, The Family Room.

“As an ICU nurse, I’ve held many hands of patients and their families as they struggled to navigate the most traumatic experience of their lives…an ICU admission,” Dr. Hetland said during a recent presentation. “Then I became the daughter of an ICU patient and it profoundly changed me. The Family Room App is the result of my experience: A passionate effort to vastly improve the ICU experience for patients and their families.”

Dr. Hetland will receive free one-on-one mentoring sessions over the next six months from health sciences industry professionals, culminating in a pitch competition for a chance to win investment at the end of June.

The mentoring program, Equalize, is a national mentoring program designed to increase the number of female academic inventors who develop startup companies to commercialize their inventions. Equalize was created in a collaboration between the technology transfer office as Washington University in St. Louis and Osage University Partners, a venture capital fund for university-based startups.

“We’re extremely proud that Dr. Hetland was selected in the 2023 cohort,” UNeMed president and CEO Michael Dixon, PhD, said. “This is a highly respected national program looking at a Nebraska innovation and seeing incredible value and potential. We’re happy for Dr. Hetland’s achievement, but also for the countless future patients and families that will benefit from her vision.”

Dr. Hetland has been working with UNMC technology transfer office, UNeMed, and Nebraska’s startup incubator and accelerator, UNeTech, since 2018 to protect her intellectual property, identify development partners, apply for small business grants, and engage with the local entrepreneurial support community.

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