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Biomedical Sciences student Julia Imo wins thrice

Tuesday 14 June 2022 1:53pm

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Congratulations to Julia Imo, from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, for winning three separate awards at Startup Dunedin’s Audacious event.

The postgraduate bioengineering student won best impact, the Polson Higgs premiere award and the people’s choice award by pitching for her product, ‘Wayfinder’.

“Wayfinder is a mental health solution founded on Pasifika principles,” Julia says.

“It is a shoe insole that analyses gait patterns, the way you walk, to detect poor mental health.”

The medical device is paired with proactive software, namely an app and caregiver dashboard.

Julia is now looking for a sector-based mentor and pre-seed capital to boost her product’s journey.

The three awards Julia won at the event include $4100 which she will use as start-up funding to make her dream a reality. 

Startup Dunedin is a not-for-profit organisation that encourages students to have an entrepreneurial spirit while providing them with resources they need to start their own business.

Entrants and winners are often from the Otago Business School, but Julia has broken the mould by being a postgraduate student from the School of Biomedical Sciences. 

She is currently working towards a Master of Applied Sciences, majoring in bioengineering and specialising in point of care technology.

“For me, winning isn't about the prizes Wayfinder received on the night,” Julia says.

“It's about consistently working towards my goals and keeping my values close while simultaneously pushing outside my comfort zone.”

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She considers Audacious to be a “milestone” event for the idea and is “grateful” to have shared the moment with her loved ones.

Julia believes that it is not about the destination nor about the journey, but about the company of the people around her, stating that she would not be where she is today without their support and guidance; Fa’afetai tele lava.

She further extends this gratitude to the opportunities she received through Audacious because without Startup Dunedin’s support, she believes Wayfinder would not have “accelerated as much as it did”.

“Fa'afetai tele lava, thank you very much to Angus, Kenzie and Rachel for their time and mahi, particularly for empowering my peers and me to produce the results we achieved throughout the semester,” Julia says.

“O le tele o sulu e maua ai se figota e mama se avega pe a ta amo fa'atasi, which means my strength does not come from me alone, but from many; it is this Samoan proverb that resonates with where both Wayfinder and I am at this point in time.”

If you would like to join Wayfinder’s waka and support its journey, you can email Julia

Startup Dunedin

School of Biomedical Sciences Website

School of Biomedical Sciences Facebook

Written by the School of Biomedical Sciences Communications Adviser, Kelsey Schutte.