Samantha Sperling and Keeley McCormick (BME) Win the Coast Capital Entrepreneurship Co-op Award for Revyn Medical Technologies Inc.

“The Coast CapitaI Innovation Centre is so generous with their time. They always have time to listen. It’s been so validating.”  – Keeley McCormick, CEO, Revyn Medical Technologies Inc.

Samantha Sperling and Keeley McCormick of Revyn Medical Technologies Inc. are both biomedical engineering students at UVic. One of their classes focused on human factors. Students were tasked with improving an existing medical device. Samantha and Keeley’s team of five was composed of four cis women and one cis man. They deliberated on project options until the male attended a pap with his girlfriend. The uncomfortable, antiquated procedure floored him and the team discovered their medical device for the project, the vaginal speculum. Sometimes, it takes an outsider to notice when something standard and familiar requires an update.

Plantation doctor J. Marion Sims created the vaginal speculum in Lancaster County, South Carolina, between 1845 and 1849. Often called the “father of modern gynecology,” DR. Sims is said to have performed surgeries on enslaved Black women without anesthesia. He developed the duckbill speculum through this barbaric process. It’s time for a new, comfortable, effective and ethically-produced speculum.

As team “Revyn” began researching the speculum design and function, they learned about its inefficiencies, including its bill-like shape not accounting for the walls, which may cave in during a pap, impeding effectiveness. It’s also designed for right-handed users. Many people with vaginas simply skip their paps because it is invasive and can be painful, but this is the only procedure that detects signs of early cervical cancer. This further fuelled the team as they worked diligently  “to increase device effectiveness, patient comfort, and physician ease-of-use.”

Revyn Technologies Inc. was founded in September 2023, which made their Coast Capital Entrepreneurship Co-op Award (October 2023) win all the more of an honor and surprise. Usually, winning businesses have been launched for at least a year. The team was honored, surprised and grateful for the prestige and remuneration. The funds will be used towards IP protection, the next critical and costly step in bringing Revyn to market.

“One of the biggest challenges is that all of us are either finishing engineering degrees or just graduated; the business side is completely new to us all. There is a huge learning curve. The (Coast Capital) Entrepreneurship Co-op has been really helpful.”  – Keeley McCormick, CEO, Revyn Medical Technologies Inc.

Startups commonly have one or two founders. Revyn Medical Technologies Inc. has five. Keeley is the CEO, seeking funding and supporting the other team members. Sam is the Chief Product Officer, “working on the whole prototyping, looking up local manufacturers, colleges and what they offer. I explore how we take the design from what it is now to something proven and sound that fulfills the function we want.” Once that is established, Sam will also branch into the marketing aspect. Each team member has a well-defined role so they can benefit from their collective expertise and skills.

Revyn’s research and design process has involved speaking with many physicians and patients. Sam has also connected with the college manufacturing programs at BCIT and Camosun both of which have such programs. BCIT is a substantial medical device manufacturer and has a medical program, so funding for the “phantom vagina” (anatomically-correct model of a vagina), for further proof of concept may be more likely there.

Currently focused on the speculum,  Revyn Medical Technologies Inc. plans to continue creating medical devices that meet the needs of underserved communities. For them, a device that “gets the job done” is not enough. Why the name Revyn? Keeley and Sam explain it came partly from moving around letters but also incorporates revolutionizing, revamping, revisioning, and revving up design and function. Keep an eye on this team and congratulations!

Written by Gillie Easdon

The Coast Capital Innovation Centre has been made possible through a partnership between the University of Victoria and the Coast Capital Federal Credit Union. Since 2016, Coast Capital has committed over $1.5 million to support entrepreneurs and innovators at UVic