On Wednesday evening, seven healthcare startups—part of a larger group of 26 finalists in the 2016 Boston MassChallenge—competed for $1.5 million in cash prizes and national recognition at the program’s gala awards ceremony.
Of the seven healthcare finalists, Adhesys Medical captured a $100,000 “diamond” award, while another pair—Brain Robotics and Signature Orthodontics—took home $50,000 “gold” prizes. Coeo Labs, Luminopia, Neuromotion, and QSM Diagnostics rounded out the healthcare wins with “silver” in-kind recognition.
“We have come a long way since 2010 when we ran our first accelerator in Boston,” said John Harthorne, Founder and CEO of MassChallenge. “We now have accelerators in five countries and growing, and have helped accelerate over 1,200 startups. They are truly making an impact on the world – addressing some of the world’s biggest problems through innovation and creating jobs of the future. This is only the beginning and I’m excited to watch what our alumni continue to accomplish in the years to come.”
Scott Bailey, managing director of MassChallenge Boston, added, “I’m proud of all our Boston MassChallenge participants, but the 26 finalists we saw tonight truly represent an elite group that our judges believe have immense potential.”
Bailey continued, “The depth and breadth of our healthcare finalists was especially gratifying and bodes well for an even stronger cohort next year. Congratulations and best wishes to the finalists and winners—they’re all on exciting trajectories.”
Over the past four months, more than 125 hand-picked startups have been working out of MassChallenge’s Seaport-area shared-space accelerator. They’ve had the opportunity to meet with mentors to refine their businesses, connected with corporate and nonprofit organizations to explore partnership opportunities, and attended workshops to learn more about product/market fit, pitching, and fundraising.
In early October, 26 startups from this cohort were selected as finalists by a panel of expert judges based on their potential for impact. Over a third of these finalists were women-founded and over a quarter were healthcare-centric, including teams working across medical devices, diagnostics, and information technology.
The event, held at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, featured Chobani founder and CEO, Hamdi Ulukaya, as a keynote speaker. To much applause, he shared stories of his yogurt company’s founding and its explosive growth to over $1.5B dollars in annual sales. Governor Charlie Baker and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo attended and spoke as well.
MassChallenge has helped launch a range of healthcare startups, including 2015 cash winners Biorasis, LaunchPad Medical, Recon Therapeutics, and Virtudent. The accelerator’s 2015 impact report observed that, since being founded in 2010, they’ve helped over 835 startups, who cumulatively have raised over $1.1B, generated $520M in revenues, and created over 6500 jobs.
The seven healthcare finalists in the 2016 Boston MassChallenge (along with their self-provided elevator pitches) were:
Adhesys Medical — (medical devices) — “Surgeons still staple and suture more than they would like, as current glues don’t live up to the task. But with limited success: e.g. leakage occurs in up to 15% of bowel resection procedures. We have developed a polyurethane based surgical glue which is fast acting, strong, flexible and fully biodegradable. This unique combination of features allows for use in unprecedented cases. It can function as a replacement for sutures topically, or as a suture or staple line reinforcement internally.”
BrainRobotics — (medical devices) — “BrainRobotics is based in Boston MA and focuses on developing EEG (aka, electroencephalography, or brainwave) controlled robotic prosthesis, which can be directly controlled using brainwave without using hands on a cost effective basis. This can be a life changer to those who suffered from loss of limb. The project is perceived as a great combination of cutting-edge technology and social responsibility. With BrainRobotic’s technology, you are in control to live a wonderful life.”
Coeo Labs — (medical devices) — “Imagine getting admitted to a hospital to get treated, but acquiring an additional infection. Ventilator Associated Pneumonia (VAP) is a Hospital acquired, fatal infection of the lungs, which happens in patients who are on the ventilator. Every year more than 250,000 patients succumb to VAP in India alone,while in US the reported cases of VAP are more than 120,000. Coeo Labs has developed an intelligent secretion and oral hygiene management system to effectively reduce the risk of acquiring VAP.”
Luminopia — (medical devices) — “Potentially billions worldwide suffer from underserved and treatable visual disorders. Current (so-called) solutions commonly mask the problem (e.g. glasses, contacts) while attempts at treatment are either inaccessible, widely hated, or ineffective after the age of 8. By leveraging mobile VR technologies, perceptual learning and eye training, Luminopia has created an unparalleled, proprietary treatment device that is safe, fun, and fast in order to improve both vision and quality of life.”
Neuromotion — (information technology) — “Neuromotion empowers children to build emotional strength. Developed at Boston Children’s Hospital, the company’s proprietary Bioresponsive Therapy confronts the access and quality challenges in mental health by combining the power of wearable technology, video games, and data into a clinically-proven, digital treatment platform for mental health. Neuromotion was founded by a team of scientists and technologists driven to build a new treatment model for mental health.”
QSM Diagnostics — (diagnostics) — “QSM Diagnostics has the fastest and lowest-cost diagnostic sensor platform for identifying and monitoring common bacteria in blood, urine, sputum, or wounds. Our technology provides results in 1 minute by detecting electronic signals from unique bacteria-produced molecules with zero sample preparation. It will provide early guidance at the point-of-care to doctors and veterinarians treating infections. The instrument is battery powered and portable. Only 10 microliters of sample fluid is needed.”
Signature Orthodontics — (medical devices) — “Neither kids nor adults enjoys having current orthodontic braces. You have to wear them 2-3 years and often get stuck with “metal mouth.” Signature Orthodontics addresses this problem by applying patented, next-generation manufacturing technology adapted for use in orthodontic treatment by the industry’s leading experts.”
James A. Gardner, @jamesagardner, is a Boston-area sales and marketing professional with a passion for consumer technologies and all things health, web & social. He started his career with Procter & Gamble before earning his MBA at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. Since then, James has served senior clients as a consultant with McKinsey & Company, led complex digital projects with Boston-area agencies, and built several high-performing marketing teams. He’s also been published and quoted in multiple professional publications, most recently CMSWire, CIO.com, eHealthcare Strategy & Trends, and MedTech Boston.
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