CASPER, Wyo. — Tim Ficken, a sterile processing manager at Summit Medical Center, told Oil City he developed his product to solve the “complexities” he’s observed over his career as a surgical technologist.

Ficken is one of six finalists this year competing for up to $50,000 in the sixth Casper Start-Up Challenge. The final pitch night is Tuesday, April 19, at 5:30 p.m.

“After 20 years in the OR, you see a lot of the same frustrations come up repeatedly, where there’s no simple solution,” Ficken said.

Those frustrations involve keeping cords, suction tubing, drill bits, and myriad other devices organized and sterile during surgery. These items also ”have a high likelihood of ripping a drape, burning through a drape, or puncturing a plastic-sleeve holder,” Ficken said.

His company, Intuitive Surgical Design, has two prototypes. One is a “highly-adjustable, multi-positional platform” designed as a “quick-access organizational tool that can be attached to the operating field.” The other is something that can be clipped right to a surgical drape.

It may be difficult to describe to those unfamiliar with the surgical theater, but Ficken said that the surgeons he’s shown the prototype to have instantly recognized its value.

“Every single one of them has said that second it’s available, they will use it.”

Ficken said countless items like many drill bits and cautery pens are wasted throughout the year due to damage and contamination, and his product would pay it for itself many times over.

“The cost of one drill bit is more than what these are going to sell for,” Ficken said.

Ficken is currently on the third version of a prototype. A Wyoming-based production facility has also been secured, with the ultimate aim of manufacturing in Casper.

Ficken said winning funding from the Casper Start-Up Challenge would allow him to more rapidly develop the prototype by purchasing more 3D printers and advance his filings for certification with the FDA. Ficken said that his focus is currently on marketing his prototypes, but in the long term, he imagines Intuitive Surgical Design as a place where other medical professionals can develop and market their field-tested ideas.