Type 1 Teddy Bear Wins IBM Award

This past year, IBM hosted a webseries, New Way to Startup, a competition among startup companies to use new technology to help humanity. The 2015 winner of the competition may be familiar to the Type 1 community, as it was the creators of a teddy bear that teaches kids how to deal with Type 1 diabetes, among other conditions.

The show started out with ten up-and-coming millennial-run startups that were focused on solving health problems. After pitching ideas at SXSW, five teams were invited to Austin, Texas to participate in a series of accelerated challenges. Using IBM tools to increase outreach through social media platforms and getting advice from mentors, teams made a final presentation explaining what they learned and how they re-worked their business models. Sproutel, a company aiming to educate children about managing chronic illness and healthy living with a teddy bear, was named the winner, based on a combination of scores from mentors during challenges, judges’ scores from final presentations, and votes cast from social media.

Many in the diabetes community already know of this teddy bear, named Jerry. Jerry has been used over the past couple of years to help children newly diagnosed with Type 1 come to terms with the condition and practice diabetes self-care as reported in Insulin Nation’s 2014 profile story.

Sproutel co-founder and CEO Aaron Horowitz said the idea was spawned (or sprouted) when he and co-founder Hannah Chung observed kids dealing with their own chronic conditions by simultaneously treating themselves and their beloved stuffed animals. Thus was born Jerry the Bear, a plush teddy bear that holds a device between his paws to educate kids about health and wellness, Type 1 diabetes, or allergies. The diabetes version of the bear allows kids to monitor Jerry’s blood-glucose levels and administer insulin injections all while learning how to count carbs and recognize diabetic symptoms.

The item is available for preorder here and has a projected shipment date of June 2016. The Type 1 bear costs $199 and includes a backpack, an insulin pen, animated storybooks, and more. You can also check out Jerry the Bear on Facebook, and watch the entire web series that featured Sproutel from their first SXSW pitch to their eventual startup competition victory here.

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Travis served as a staff writer for Insulin Nation and Type 2 Nation in 2015. Previously, he was a staff writer for Insight, a high school newspaper, as well as a copywriter for The Emersonian, Emerson's yearbook.

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