By Jacqueline J. Greene
The University of Kentucky Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) worked with four UK innovators to pitch their technologies at the inaugural Founder Hunt event at Churchill Downs in Louisville. Founder Hunt is a collaboration between the UK OTC, Commonwealth Commercialization Center (C3) and the University of Louisville (UofL). The goal of Founder Hunt is to connect research-backed technologies with startup founders who want to build a company around the technology.
The event provided an opportunity for university innovators to do a five-minute pitch of their health care-related technology to the audience of almost 200 attendees, including entrepreneurs, investors from around the region, numerous health tech companies, etc.
The first technology, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Platform for Assessing & Tracking Stroke, was developed by Keith Pennypacker, professor in the College of Medicine, Qiang Cheng, associate professor in the College of Engineering, and Justin Fraser, assistant professor in the College of Medicine, and was presented by Eric Hartman, associate director of OTC New Ventures. The platform predicts the severity of stroke and drug targets for treatment by using the following variables to make the prediction: size of infarct as measured by MRI/CT imaging, blood electrolyte levels and changes in inflammatory gene/protein expression. It provides personalized medicine, reduces disability and death, and gives actionable information to providers.
The second technology, a Novel Bone Biopsy Device developed by Madhumathi Rao, associate professor in the College of Medicine, Florence Lima, research faculty in the College of Medicine, and Clay Larkin, biomedical engineering student in the College of Engineering, was presented by Larkin. The needle uses proprietary cutting-edge design and the three-part design provides ease of use. Using this device minimizes tissue damage and preserves the microarchitecture of samples. It is a power-driven device that reduces complications and pain for patients.
The third technology, an Imaging Device for Guidance of Brain Tumor Surgery, developed by Guoqiang Yu, professor in the College of Engineering, Thomas Pittman, professor in the College of Medicine, and Chong Huang, assistant professor in the College of Engineering, was presented by Yu. The technology is a wearable, all-in-one fluorescence imaging device to assist with brain tumor surgery. This device, known as the F.Loupe, is much easier to align, maintain and use compared to the large microscope currently being used. The F.Loupe provides personalized medicine and reduces disability and death.
The fourth technology, Radiation Therapy Quality Assurance (QA) Device, developed by Janelle Molloy, director of Medical Physics and professor in the College of Medicine, was presented by Molloy. This technology has integrated multiple devices into one device for ease of use and to allow for efficient completion of QA (quality assurance) protocols. It reduces the nine-hour procedure down to two minutes and enables remote review and approval of data.
“The event was exactly what the academic inventors' community needs," Molloy said. "The fixed presentation format removed a lot of the 'showmanship' pressure and allowed researchers and business leaders to focus on substance. Very well organized and just the right environment."
After the presentations, the innovators had an opportunity to speak to interested attendees more about their technology.
“Our first Founder Hunt was a big win for the health innovation and commercialization community here in Kentucky and proved very useful for our office to help advance some of our most promising UK technologies by introducing them to potential startup founders," said Ian McClure, executive director of OTC. "We are already working with several entrepreneur and investment teams that attended the event to explore potential partnerships to help take these technologies to market. These early successes are due to the network effects created by partnering with UofL and C3 to create the event since it greatly expanded the network of potential attendees to see our innovators pitch their discoveries."