When Samuel Enchelmaier started his academic journey, he was driven by a passion to create a positive impact and contribute to a sustainable future. At UBC Sauder School of Business, he’s embraced the opportunity to do just that by making strides in healthcare innovation.
UBC Sauder, ranked as the number-one business school in Canada for the past six years, stood out for Enchelmaier during the application process due to several compelling factors. Located in the vibrant and progressive city of Vancouver, British Columbia, the school offers rigorous academics and prioritizes environmental and social governance in business—a value Enchelmaier shares.
Now nearing the end of his Bachelor of Commerce program, Enchelmaier recalls signing up for the school’s New Venture Design course as a pivotal moment. Jointly offered by UBC Sauder and the UBC faculties of Applied Science, the course prepares students for real-world challenges in business by empowering them to bring innovative ideas to life.
Pioneering sustainable healthcare solutions
“New Venture Design inspired me to specialize in entrepreneurship,” Enchelmaier explains. “The idea of spending eight months working with a team of bright individuals to create a solution and fulfill a need blew my mind.”
Along with two fellow business students and three engineering students, he embarked on an ambitious mission—to develop a reusable and sterilizable IV bag. The group formed a sustainable medical device venture called NextMed.
A 2019 report revealed that the combined waste of 110 Canadian hospitals amounts to approximately 87,000 tonnes a year. NextMed’s goal is to reduce the consumption of single-use medical devices. It’s a solution that health authorities and the government are urgently seeking, as Enchelmaier and his team discovered in their extensive market research.
As the reusable IV bag prototype took shape, the interdisciplinary team members brought their unique expertise to the table. Enchelmaier and his business colleagues Sean Kyer and Wilson Cao validated the venture’s concept, overseeing project management and developing NextMed’s business plan, financial models, and marketing strategy.
Enchelmaier enjoyed being able to apply his course theory into practice, while also learning about market definition, financial projections, the design cycle, product marketing, manufacturing, and distribution.
“What’s remarkable is how each student contributed beyond their field of study, fostering an invaluable culture of cross-functional collaboration,” says Fraser Pogue, Entrepreneurship and Innovation Lead. “New Venture Design student teams regularly gain recognition in worldwide competitions and continue to build innovative companies beyond the classroom. I was proud to see the NextMed team take second place at this year’s World’s Challenge case competition at the UBC Global Lounge.”
NextMed’s talented multidisciplinary team was key to the rapid turnaround of its IV bag prototype. “People are a business’s most valuable resource,” Enchelmaier says. “Without the diverse team we had, something of this magnitude would not have been possible.”
Their innovative approach addresses the full lifecycle of used IV bags. The bags are collected and transported to regional reprocessing facilities where they undergo rigorous cleaning, sterilization, refilling and resealing—a sustainable practice that not only reduces waste but also bolsters supply chain resilience.
As Enchelmaier discovered, “Creating a local supply chain is, in some ways, disaster-resilient. Having reprocessing facilities near hospitals lowers the odds of supply chain disruption, which was an issue we witnessed during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Moving toward an innovative future
NextMed has already made significant environmental strides and holds the potential to transform healthcare practices. Enchelmaier believes that disrupting industries and processes to benefit the planet is a crucial part of progress. “We’re focused on sustainable development—this means we are striving to create an improved health system that supports the needs of those today, without compromising the needs of those in the future.”
Taking the leap into entrepreneurship via New Venture Design has been an experience that has significantly enriched his student life at UBC Sauder, and boosted his future career prospects.
Before his final year at UBC Sauder, Enchelmaier spent a transformative summer as a Venture Recruitment Intern with start-up accelerator Creative Destruction Lab Vancouver. Here, he delved into technologies aimed at improving human health and wellness, further solidifying his commitment to creating positive change through innovation and entrepreneurship.
“Choosing to further my education at UBC Sauder has been the best decision of my life,” adds Enchelmaier. “I’ve found an incredible sense of community with students and alumni from all around the world and professors that really want to help their students thrive.”
To learn more about academic and student life at UBC Sauder, click here.