BioAccel Announced Student Med-Tech Company Formation Following First-Year Federal Innovation Grant
Published: Jun 23, 2016
Phoenix, AZ (June 23, 2016) — What do the words OsteoForge, Embrylux, LumiSense and Syntr Healthtech have in common?
Each are innovative, new “med-tech” companies developed by University of California – Irvine (UCI) college students – innovative companies that might not exist today without support from a unique student training and mentoring program led by BioAccel. Also, Arizona State University students participated in a similar med-tech entrepreneur course.
“Thanks to this new medical device teambuilding capstone course, UCI has seen a 600 percent increase in the number of student med-tech business applications, and we’ve incorporated BioAccel’s start-up curriculum into the university’s Ph.D. program,” said Michelle Khine, Associate Professor of UCI Biomedical Engineering as well as Chemical Engineering and Materials Science.
The program’s first year culminated on June 9 as UCI student teams presented posters and competed for Capstone Design Awards and BioENGINE Fellowships at a closing symposium held at the Cove, home to UCI Applied Innovation and the center of a growing innovation district in Southern California.
“Three student teams were selected by a panel of judges to each receive $14,000 in seed funding, and these teams will participate in a summer med-tech program designed to further assess technical and commercial start-up potential,” noted Ron King, Ph.D., BioAccel Chief Science Officer, BioAccel co-founder and course instructor.
Student teams each winning $14,000 in Capstone Design Awards included Syntr Healthtech, Opticom, and K9 BioWalk.
Syntr Healthtech’s device is aimed to treat millions of people affected by diabetic foot ulcers by incorporating the body’s own regenerative stem cells from fat tissue to promote healing. Opticom’s portable, innovative device will be used for breast exams, optically detecting breast cancer through broadband spectroscopy. K9 BioWalk is providing biomechanically compatible solutions for dog prosthetics, helping dogs of various sizes.
“BioAccel’s university med-tech start-up program provides technical assistance for innovative proof-of-concept projects and we increase the number of trained entrepreneurs who will create technology businesses of tomorrow,” King said. “During our first-year program supported by the EDA, our classes at UCI and ASU encouraged students to form teams of students majoring in biomedical engineering, medical and clinical disciplines, and business.”
UCI’s inaugural, capstone course -- nine-hours per week, over nine months -- resulted in 20 student teams shaping medical device projects. While several UCI student teams are expected to convert projects to real companies, other student projects could result in licensing opportunities valuable to both students and the university.
Prior to the June 9 finalist competition, UCI hosted its annual Business Plan Competition, where three student teams were among a dozen winning prizes totaling $100K in cash and in-kind services. Winning teams included Embrylux (First Place Award, $10,000), improving the success of screening in vitro fertilization embryos to ensure implantation is safer and less expensive; CeleriBio (Second Place Award, $5,000), advancing technology to detect bloodstream infections, and Curaflow (Second Place Award, $5,000), enhancing pain reduction for those affected by neuropathy through use of an improved, wearable drug delivery device treating the specific depth of affected nerves.
In addition to BioAccel’s training and mentoring provided for more than 100 UCI students and 40+ UCI Applied Innovation mentors, BioAccel’s med-tech start-up program was introduced at Arizona State University as part of a signature biomedical engineering course during the past school year, where dozens of ASU students explored forming med-tech companies. BioAccel then created a University Roadshow to encourage engineering, clinical and business degree collaboration in Arizona’s public and private universities.
Novel bioengineering course to launch innovative med-tech companies
BioAccel’s approach to nurturing med-tech start-up companies by combining science, engineering, business and clinical disciplines is becoming recognized by Southern California and Arizona universities as essential to successful med-tech company start-ups.
“BioAccel is providing leadership in the U.S. Southwest for med-tech entrepreneur training and mentoring while emphasizing the importance of interdisciplinary teambuilding for student med-tech company start-ups,” Khine said.
The student teams took first steps to developing medical device and technology companies, including business plan and product development, team leadership formation, branding, and strategies for intellectual property and regulatory requirements.
“Finalist teams now have the opportunity to compete to become finalists in BioAccel’s Solutions Challenge 2016 competition on December 1 in Phoenix, where the teams have opportunity to win up to $100,000 in early-stage start-up seed funding,” King said.
King, who shaped BioAccel’s program, teaches undergraduate courses at UCI and ASU, as well as doctoral courses at UCI.
A wide variety of UCI student companies under development include pressure sensors for prosthetics, early disease detection devices, a wearable device to reduce injuries during fitness routines, and a device to help dermatologists better evaluate skin conditions. Of these companies, 15 were based on patents generated in UCI labs.
Students were charged with identifying significant and real medical needs, developing innovative technology and devices to meet those needs, and then assessing the business model to test market viability. A combination of engineering, business and clinical skills are essential for rounding out a med-tech start-up company team, King said.
Course topics include business planning and executive team formation, intellectual property basics for protecting inventions through patents, as well as regulatory requirements including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s process of obtaining FDA device clearance for bioscience innovations.
The course puts into practice student design strategies and solutions for real world biomedical engineering challenges. This includes how to get reimbursed for innovating a medical device, billing and back-office service excellence, as well as understanding the complicated world of health insurance reimbursement while working with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Other topics include ethics, Lean Startup methodology, intellectual property protection and applying for patents.
Addressing untapped biomedical start-up opportunities in Arizona
“In Arizona, more than 96 percent of venture funding for bioscience start-ups comes from outside the state,” King said. “While this has resulted in many early-stage companies relocating to regions where capital financing resides, BioAccel’s goal is to develop Arizona’s biomedical ecosystem of talent as well as early-stage investors.”
BioAccel is working with ASU’s academic leaders to develop a formal capstone project linking engineering, business, and clinical programs and expects the program to be introduced in other Arizona higher education institutions.
According to the Kauffman Foundation and National Center for Entrepreneurship, only an additional 6 percent of federally funded research discoveries could result in a $1.4 trillion to $3 trilling impact on the national Gross Domestic Product. BioAccel’s EDA grant funding represents a significant investment in both the region’s and Arizona’s biomedical sector.
Med-Tech student teams developing products in University of California – Irvine’s Engineering Design Program
Information and logos for each of the following teams are featured at: http://www.projects.uci.design
Embrylux (First Place Award, $15,000)
This team has developed a method to improve the success of screening in vitro fertilization embryos to ensure implantation is safer and less expensive for the client. The screening device will be designed as an imaging device to detect intrinsic markers to indicate healthy embryos.
CeleriBio (Second Place Award, $5,000)
Bloodstream infections affect more than 700,000 people annual in the United States, resulting in healthcare costs of $17 billion dollars. With this team’s patented and sensitive technology, bacteria and the corresponding antibiotic will be identified within three hours, compared to the current standard of testing the bacteria which days one or more days. The technology is expected to save lives, reduce healthcare costs, and counteract the spread of antibiotic resistance.
Curaflow (Second Place Award, $5,000)
Approximately 20 million people in the United States suffer from neuropathy in their hands and feet due to diabetes, and other causes. This team’s drug delivery system will be wearable and able to deliver regenerative medications to the specific depth of the affected nerves.
This student team aims to treat millions of people affected by diabetic foot ulcers by incorporating the body’s own regenerative stem cells from fat tissue to promote healing.
This team is using charge-balanced stimulation in a non-invasive neuroprosthetic device to assist the blind with perceiving light.
This team is improving bone fixture screws for the orthopedic industry based on an individual’s biological properties.
This team is building an automated pill dispense to provide in-some solutions for drug adherence.
This team is providing biomechanically compatible solutions for dog prosthetics, helping dogs of various sizes.
This team is addressing early detection of Malaria through a device measuring saliva content, reducing costs and enhancing convenience for testing.
This team is creating a portable, innovative device to be used for breast exams, optically detecting breast cancer through broadband spectroscopy.
Prostate cancer has been diagnosed in 2.9 million men in the U.S. and more than 220,000 are expected to be diagnosed this year. This team is designing a disposable, noninvasive device to monitor urine, reducing the number of unnecessary doctor’s appointments.
This team is reducing the problem of tinnitus – or ringing in ears – through use of a sleek device featuring electrical nerve stimulation to suppress the ringing noise.
This team is improving fabrication of microfluidic chips used for point-of-care diagnostics and research. Chips are assembled through 3D printing, eliminating flaws from traditional fabrication methods.
This team is addressing the medical issue of re-injury of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) after reconstructive surgery. The team is creating a wearable strain monitor to help prevent re-injury and will provide diagnostic readouts.
This team is developing wearable sensors to track muscle activity during exercise which will connect to an app for users to track which muscles are being used.
This team is creating a medical device to detect gluten in food, helpful for people with gluten food allergies.
This team is creating a reusable, adjustable cast to eliminate the need for those who break a bone and require a splint before a cast due to swelling. The cast will be adjustable over the course of treatment, preventing tightness as well as a loose fit.
This team is creating an alert system to improve detection of children who are forgotten in a vehicle.
This team is creating a comfortable and adjustable heel while creates a versatile and comfortable approach to high heels.
This team is developing a hand-held imaging device to combat the use of unnecessary skin biopsies. The device will equip dermatologists with accurate, real-time information to better evaluate skin lesions.
BioAccel is the leading organization in the United States dedicated to developing a robust bioscience ecosystem including entrepreneur development, and creation of a validated pipeline of commercially viable bioscience technology to transform healthcare delivery. Our mission is to work with qualifying entrepreneurs and their early-stage bioscience technology and medical device companies to identify start-up funding, as well as provide training and mentorship to accelerate commercialization, improve healthcare through innovation, and diversify economic development.
Since inception in 2009, BioAccel has supported the launch of 17 game-changing healthcare device companies through early-stage funding, mentoring, and training, filling an unmet need in Arizona’s emerging bioscience sector. BioAccel has helped our portfolio of bioscience entrepreneurs successfully navigate the “Valley of Death” while creating healthy communities through vanguard bioscience solutions and supporting Arizona economic growth.
All BioAccel programs are dedicated to achieving our mission: To work with qualifying entrepreneurs and their early-stage bioscience technology and medical device companies to identify start-up funding, as well as provide training and mentorship to accelerate commercialization, improve healthcare through innovation, and diversify economic development.
In addition to our start-up investment programs – Technology Advancement (TAP) and New Venture Development (NVDP) – BioAccel’s additional programs provide training, mentorship, and early-stage start-up funding through BioAccel’s unique, annual Solutions Challenge competition featuring the “Scorpion Pit” judged by Arizona-based bioscience and technology executives.
About UCI Applied Innovation
UCI Applied Innovation brings campus-based discoveries together with Orange County’s vibrant business community to support job creation and economic growth. To make this happen, UCI Applied Innovation looks to serve as the “front door” for industry collaboration with UCI: a one-stop shop for outside entrepreneurs seeking access to university inventions and talent, large corporations looking to tap the school’s research capabilities, and investors wanting to financially support promising new companies. Additionally, we are working to cultivate an “innovation district” in the heart of Orange County, producing more start-ups, more scale-ups, and ultimately a world-class entrepreneurial ecosystem.
About the University of California, Irvine
Currently celebrating its 50th anniversary, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $4.8 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.