Brain imaging, narcotics waste and health care-associated infections were the topics of the early stage startup companies that took home the top prizes Friday at the Grow Your Startup From the Ground Up conference pitch competition.
A project of the Temple Health and Bioscience District, the symposium included a pitch competition from 10 biotechnology and health-related industry companies that are in the early stages of product development.
The first-prize winner received a $10,000 grant; the second-place winner received six months of free rent for an office in the THBD incubator, a $3,000 value, and a $2,000 credit towards common laboratory fees; and the third-place winner won lunch with an industry advisor of their choice.
The conference featured a number of notable, experienced speakers in the medical technology, medical device, bio- technology and health technology spaces who work with startups and investors. From protecting ideas, to locating funding resources, to making a profit, the topics and panels walked through every step of a startup’s journey from conception to commercialization.
First place in the pitch competition went to Advanced Scanner, which uses proprietary scanner technology to improve visualization and data for neurosurgeons during surgery.
Jeff Levine is co-founder and CEO of Advanced Scanner. His partner is Aaron Bernstein. Lars Kuslich, a Temple Health and Bioscience District graduate intern, works for the group part time.
An MRI is used to plan a patient’s surgery and keep track of a surgeon’s tools within the brain.
When the skull is opened there is a change in pressure, and the brain changes shape and begins to deflate over the next 200 to 400 minutes.
“The brain is constantly moving and the MRI is never accurate,” Levine said. “The sur- geons are forced to recalculate the changes in their head, making changes on the fly.”
The 3D optical scanner is about the size of a Nerf football and weighs about 2 pounds. It can be used throughout the surgery to update any changes.
“We think we can save a minimum of 30 minutes per procedure,” he said.
Second prize went to Vigilant Waste.
There is an opioid epidemic in hospitals, at which there is easy access to some of the most potent opioids, including Fentanyl, said Raffi Baddour, CEO for Vigilant Waste.
In hospitals the health care provider will access medication through an automated medication dispensing cabinet, Baddour said. There is usually some of the drug left in the vial once it’s administered and the person giving the drug is required to find a witness to watch them squirt the remainder of the drug into the trashcan.
The medication is all clear and the diversion is accomplished by self injecting the drug, drawing saline into the syringe and taking that syringe and administering saline to the patient.
DivertAlert is an automated single-user controlled substance wasting solution that replaces the human witness and verifies the composition and volume of each waste dose at the point of use. The device then destroys verified waste, thereby ending the chain of custody at the device.
The third-place pitch was given by Mitch Greenberg, president and CEO of SABER.
SABER is developing a programmable anti-microbial bandage — a device utilizing blue light mainly in the wavelength range of 400 to 470 nm, outside the range of UV light, for application on postoperative incisions and wound sites. It is designed to prevent bacterial contamination of the site, thus reducing the occurrence of surgical site infections.
Health care-related infections costs the health care system and hospitals more than $35 billion a year and are not reimbursed, Greenberg said.
The problem exists because of drug-resistant bacteria and non-compliance in prevention protocols, he said.
“It has been proven that blue light has the ability to kill bacteria resistant to antibiotics,” Greenberg said.
Blue light has wound-healing properties and is effective on a wide variety of pathogens, he said.
SABER has developed a wearable, flexible LED bandage. It’s reusable with a disposable covering.
Other innovative ideas in the pitch competition included treating tumors with heat, cancers in dogs, 3D-printed organ models, a catheter-based platform that provides definitive treatment for gallstone disease, and an improved treatment for acute myeloid leukemia.
Gregg Fairbrothers, a pitch competition judge, said he’s not of fan of the competitions because there are winners, which implies there are losers.
“I think anybody who has put a deal together and puts on the market a product that works, is a company that deserves to run and not think less of themselves because they didn’t win,” Fairbrothers said “None of you are losers.”
Fairbrothers, a speaker at the event, is founder and board member of Biomedical Entrepreneurship and founding director of Dartmouth Entrepreneurship Network. He was a speaker at the Bioscience District Growing Your Startup From the Ground Up event.
One of the judges mentioned that each judge scored the presentations differently. No one team got every judge on the same page.
Anita Leffel, CEO and founder of Silver Academy and a judge, told the group that some the presenters talked above the heads of the judges.
“That’s a problem because I could be an investor,” Leffel said. “I really enjoyed hearing from all of you.”