By Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.
Innovasan, the company developing a cost effective solution to treat and dispose of fluid medical waste profiled just yesterday on teknovation.biz, took the top prize in this year’s Life Science Tennessee “Venture Forum” held in Nashville.
The Knoxville-based start-up won over four other companies in what one of the judges described as a “very close” competition.
The pitch event was held yesterday morning with the judges deliberating for a long time before settling on Innovasan. The results were announced at the end of the first full-day of Life Science Tennessee’s annual conference.
“I feel very thankful and blessed,” Jeff Hubrig Jr., Manager of Business Development, said. “Moving on to SEBio is amazing.”
Innovasan won a $5,000 cash prize from the Waller law firm, a five-minute pitch video from Benchfly, and a company video to be showcased during the opening reception of the regional “Southeast Bio Investor & Partnering Forum” (SEBio) next month in Atlanta.
“This year’s slate was the strongest in the history of the event,” Waller Partner Hunter Rost said he heard from many conference attendees. MB Venture Partners Co-Founder Gary Stevenson, one of the four judges, noted that it was the most geographically diverse group ever.
The competition ultimately came down to two companies – Innovasan and EndoInSight, according to Chris Rand, Co-founder and Partner of TriStar Technology Ventures, another judge.
For Innovasan, it was a competition that might have gone unnoticed except for an event that Hubrig learned about at the last minute. Baker Donelson hosted a series of regional meetings this summer with Life Science Tennessee, including one in Knoxville. The night before the event, Hubrig said he received an email from Jim Biggs of the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center urging him to attend.
It was Hubrig’s first Life Science Tennessee meeting. Innovasan learned about the “Venture Forum” that morning and subsequently applied. As they say, the rest is history.
The other companies in the finals were:
- EndoInSight, a Memphis-based start-up that provides low-cost disposable CO2 gas sources to colonoscopy centers that reduce patient pain. By helping patients have less pain, the centers can increase throughput and decrease the nursing hours needed to treat patients. The CO2 device will help nurses be more efficient and less stressed by simplifying the medical process and reducing the amount of time patients must spend in recovery.
- 3D Operations, Inc., a Chattanooga additive manufacturing (3D printing) company in the healthcare sector that provides anatomical models based on a patient’s imaging data such as an MRI or CT scan. Unlike virtual two-dimensional alternatives, the 3D models allow surgeons to hold and examine a patient’s specific anatomy prior to starting any procedure or treatment.
- VDDI Pharmaceuticals of Nashville was formed because of a need for developing early stage drugs that are being passed over for larger, more lucrative options with proven efficiency. VDDI Pharmaceuticals plans to pursue these early stage products qualifying for fast track approval, primarily in the areas of cancer, cardiovascular disease and infectious disease, and develop the products through Phase II of the required regulatory approval process.
- PEURegen, Inc., also of Nashville, that seeks to advance the wound healing market by developing a pipeline of cost effective biodegradable wound care products that will enhance healthy tissue regeneration. Made of polyurethane, amino acid lysine-based, biodegradable, synthetic skin scab scaffold, its product can be used for treatment of deep-full thickness skin wounds.
In the picture below, Hubrig (left) accepts ceremonial check from Rost.