Award-winning inventors to kick off entrepreneurship forum

contact: Alyssa Benson
| WMU News
Photo of Joseph Barnett and Stephen John.

From left: Barnett and John

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The entrepreneurs behind the life-saving invention NeoVent will be the first speakers in the 2016-17 Entrepreneurship Forum speaker series at Western Michigan University’s Haworth College of Business.

Stephen John and Joseph Barnett, inventors of NeoVent, will speak at 8 a.m. Friday, Sept. 16, in 2150 Schneider Hall. The event is free and open to the public and begins with breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Reservations are required and can be made by calling (269) 387-5964 or at Free parking is available at Schneider Hall in Lot 72R.


NeoVent is a low-cost medical device that could help preterm babies with underdeveloped lungs that need some degree of lung support. The device is made to be used in place of the costly medical equipment that typically provides assistance to premature babies experiencing respiratory distress. John and Barnett estimate that NeoVent will be priced around $25 per unit, versus the thousands of dollars ventilators cost, making it a great solution for medical centers in underserved parts of the world. More than two-and-a-half years into the development of NeoVent, the device has a patent pending, and John and Barnett are working on a prototype. 

John and Barnett

John and Barnett are both 2015 graduates of WMU. John earned an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and Barnett a degree in biomedical sciences. Both are pursuing careers as physicians and medical device developers and have spent time abroad volunteering at hospitals­­—John in Nepal and Barnett in Honduras.

NeoVent Awards and Recognition

  • Winner of the Collegiate Inventors Competition, a program of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, sponsored by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the AbbVie Foundation.
  • U.S. National Winner of the James Dyson Award, advancing to the top 20 finalists internationally for the worldwide award.
  • First place winner of the $10,000 prize in the Biomedical Engineering Society’s competition for undergraduate biomedical and bioengineering students.
  • Recipient of the $10,000 “Cure It” prize in the Lemelson-MIT National Collegiate Student Prize Competition.
  • Inaugural recipient of the Brian Patrick Thomas Entrepreneurial Spirit Award, a $10,000 award given to the company in WMU’s Starting Gate, where team members look beyond themselves and move teams of people to a common cause with a higher social purpose.
  • Participant in Venturewell’s e-team stage 1 and stage 2 workshops, garnering grants totaling $25,000.
  • Participant in the Grand Challenges in Global Health event hosted by the Gates Foundation, China’s Ministry of Sciences and Technology and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

About Entrepreneurship Forum

Entrepreneurship Forum is a monthly series hosted by WMU’s Haworth College of Business designed to bring stories of entrepreneurial success to the greater Kalamazoo community. The series is devoted to entrepreneurs and unique stories of startup success. To learn more about the series, visit

Future Entrepreneurship Forum Speakers

  • Oct. 14: Lucy Dilley, Can-Do Kitchen
  • Nov. 11: Benjamin Gott, Boxed Water

For more information or to RSVP please call (269) 387-5964 or register at To suggest an entrepreneur who should be considered for the series, contact Alyssa Gapske at

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