A University of Maryland professor and doctoral student team who invented a new material that halts wound bleeding won the attention of a group of venture capitalists and the title of "Best Inventor Pitch for Bioscience Day 2008," held on Nov. 12.
Sponsored by the university's Office of Technology Commercialization, the College of Chemical and Life Sciences, and the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute, or Mtech, the second annual "Professor Venture Fair" gave faculty and inventors the opportunity to pitch their new technologies to a team of five venture capitalists and entrepreneurs from the region. Presenters were judged based upon clarity of pitch and commercial viability.
Fischell Department of Bioengineering doctoral student Matthew Dowling and chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Srinivasa Raghavan won for nano-velcro, a new, patent-pending bio-material they're developing into two products: a sponge that is applied directly to a wound to stop hemorrhaging, and a spray that halts blood loss and seals tissue in a variety of situations, from minor surgical bleeding to life-threatening arterial punctures. Both products can be gently removed after wounds heal.
"Dowling [in his pitch] addressed all of the questions that needed to be answered for the judges to determine that there is a real market opportunity here," says Jim Chung, director of Mtech's VentureAccelerator Program.
Dowling and Raghavan create nano-velcro by attaching fatty grafts to the biopolymer chitosan, which is derived from the shells of crustaceans such as crabs and shrimp. The fatty grafts gently hook onto blood or soft tissue, similar to Velcro(R), enabling the chitosan to act directly and more effectively in blood coagulation and wound healing.
Dowling launched Remedium Technologies Inc. in 2007 to bring the invention to market. The company took second place in the 2007 University of Maryland $50K Business Plan Competition graduate student category, winning $8,000. Remedium has since won the University of Nebraska Business Plan Competition and participated in both the Rice Business Plan Competition and the Moot Corp Competition held by the University of Texas at Austin.
Remedium received a $103,950 Maryland Industrial Partnerships project award in August, 2008 to further develop its technology.
Pre-clinical testing is underway for both the sponge and spray.
Remedium's team also includes Fischell Department of Bioengineering graduate student Peter Thomas and chemical and biomolecular engineering research associate Oluwatosin Ogunsola.
Judges for the Best Inventor Pitch included: bio-entrepreneur Lou Cantolupo; Christine Copple, president and CEO of Starise Ventures Inc.; Mark Grovic, general partner of New Markets Venture Partners; Bruce Robertson, managing director of H.I.G. Ventures; and Matt Zuga, managing director of Red Abbey Venture Partners.
"More than anything, this award validates excitement about our technology from investors," said Dowling. "We are very confident in our technology, but selling it is a separate and distinct challenge. Today was a good indication that venture capitalists are starting to buy into what we are selling."
"This event, along with the information technology Professor Venture Fair at the Institute for Systems Research Symposium in the spring, offer the best window into the most promising science and technology innovations and potential startups coming out of the University of Maryland," says Dean Chang, director of Mtech's venture creation and entrepreneurship education programs. "Since we started these Professor Venture Fairs just over a year ago, all three winners of the Best Inventor Pitch have gone on to form exciting companies, which says as much about the growing entrepreneurial culture here on campus as it does about the quality of these inventions."
The Best Inventor Pitch is part of the University of Maryland's annual Bioscience Research & Technology Review Day, a special event featuring research talks, presentations, mini-symposia and demonstrations by university scientists. The program provides a unique opportunity for executives and professionals in industry and government to discover the most recent advances in bioscience and biotechnology at the University of Maryland; to promote the potential for academic-industry-government collaboration; to meet University scientists and interact with graduate student researchers; to network with colleagues who share an interest in the promotion of bioscience and the bioscience industry; and to recruit employees and investigate job opportunities.