NYC-backed health startup lab wants to turn academics into entrepreneurs

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The Bio & Health Tech Entrepreneurship Lab, a new startup program supported by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), is betting that it can turn a group of mostly science-oriented academics and researchers into business-savvy entrepreneurs.

The program which launched at the end of last year, this week announced the members of its inaugural class, selecting 20 startups from an applicant pool of 78. Out of the group, just one startup is not affiliated with a university or teaching hospital in New York.

Mary Howard, program manager for the Bio & Health Tech Entrepreneurship Lab (ELabNYC), said the startups take on a range of problems from drug discovery to devices to health IT, although bioinformatics and diagnostics are particularly well represented.

Unlike other health-focused startup programs, ELabNYC doesn’t provide funding or space and it’s focused on much earlier-stage companies – in this class, more than half don’t even have websites and many have yet to incorporate. The program is also less selective than other health-specific startup accelerators that often take just three percent of applicants.

But its audience and goals are different – it hopes to bridge the city’s academic and entrepreneurial communities and help science researchers and engineers with little business knowledge commercialize their work. The six-month program will provide participants with coaching, pitch preparation, mentorship and other activities meant to connect founders with the local network of investors and entrepreneurs in healthcare.

Universities are increasingly supporting on-campus innovation through incubator-style programs, but those tend to focus on student entrepreneurs. Howard said ELabNYC aims to support researchers whose institutions may not have the staff or resources to help academics interested in improving their understanding of business or expand their professional networks.

“What was very encouraging was the level of participation by the universities in supporting the program by tapping into their communities,” said Eric Vieira, the program’s bio science practice leader. “It shows that pieces are falling into place and the universities would like to see these kinds of technology developed.”

Here are the lab’s new class of startups (language from ELabNYC):

Paul Scheid and Ashish Agarwal: Solvuu is a big-data management and analysis software for genomics. By applying a novel software engineering methodology the platform will advance biological research and healthcare.

Eliot Dow: [We use a] combination of human crowd sourcing and digital image analysis [to] permit scientists to routinely analyze the brain’s neural wiring.

Alexander Bisignano: Recombine is comprehensive, cost-effective genetic test for couples looking to conceive. We provide an all inclusive genetic testing service from sample collection and DNA analysis all the way through to genetic counseling. It is genetic testing, simplified.

Neal Paragas: Our molecular imaging animal model and image processing algorithms allow for the non-invasive, real-time visualization of efficacy and safety studies in models of human disease. 

Scott Trocchia: [We use] nanoscale solid-state device design, circuit design and biochemistry to explore single-molecule bio-electronic transduction in a unique fashion by leveraging field-effect detection.

Roger Altman & Scott Blanchard: Lumidyne Technologies aims to bring next-generation fluorescent probes, which exhibit superior brightness and stability over all analogous commercially available reagents,  to the commercial market.

Mikail Kamal & Jason Rosenberg: [We provide a] low-cost and low-tech emergency obstetrics device for managing PPH in low resources settings.

Kate Rochlin: ImmunovENT re-invents allergy diagnostics with the Local Allergy Mucosal Brush (LAMB) Test, which identifies local antigen-specific igE not found by skin or blood testing.

Michael Khalil: [We use] a novel optical tomography imaging system to diagnose and monitor peripheral arterial disease; we aim to reduce the number of diabetic foot amputations.

Joseph Landolina & Isaac Miller: [We] created a gel that instantly stops bleeding; is inexpensively produced and facilitates faster healing. Our goal is to improve the quality of wound care.

Tian Liu: [We develop] image processing software to assist neurosurgeons performing image guided surgery.

Suzanne Maher: [We created a] non-degradable synthetic implant designed to mechanically function in a similar way to the native tissue, while also enabling robust fixation at the site of implantation.

Sudarshana Purkavastha: [We use] oxytocin analogues as next generation peptide drugs to treat obesity/type 2 diabetes with improved efficacy and eliminating negative side effects.

Ophir Gaathon: Diamond Nanotechnologies develops fluorescent biomarkers for super resolution sensing and imaging at the single molecular level.

Arevik Mosoian, Luca Gusella, Elena Fedorov: SkinAxis develops a platform for drug and cosmetic active ingredient discovery that allows identification and validation of skin molecular targets under physiologically relevant conditions.

Yu Zhang: [We use] a novel synthetic Curcuminoid as a wound healing treatment product.

Jason Dictenberg: [We focus on] cryopreservation for primary cell culture commercialization.

Ke Cheng & Sina Basir: HistoWiz is a histopathology service company that process mouse tissue samples and digitalizes the result for cancer researchers in academia and pharma.

Rodney Agayan & Mark Punyanitya: The Image Reading Center interactive training platform enables academic investigators and industry scientists to improve the overall quality of clinical trials.

Jonathan Dick: mHealth Solutions leverages mobile technology to improve care to high-risk patients by providing decision support while simultaneously engaging patients through their mobile phones.

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Michael Sinsheimer

I am glad to see this – we’ve been partnering at the earliest stages of medtech at MedTech Catalyst whereby we typically found/co-found companies with physician or biomedical engineer inventors.

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