Two University of Utah student medical startup companies are heading to one of the nation’s top business plan competitions this month. The companies, Veritas Medical and 6S Medical, will be competing for more than $1 million in prizes in the 15th Annual Rice Business Plan Competition at Rice University, April 16-18.
The winner of the competition will take home a grand prize valued at more than $450,000, including seed funding and the opportunity to ring the closing bell at NASDAQ Marketsite. Judges select the winner based on the company that represents the best investment opportunity.
“It’s very exciting opportunity because both Veritas and 6S have each won several major grants and competitions,” said Nate Rhodes, CEO of Veritas Medical and a recent graduate of the U’s graduate program in bioengineering. “We have received excellent validation of our technologies and ability to execute. I believe we both have a good chance at each coming home with some major prizes. This is a testament to the quality of the U’s programs to have multiple startups receiving national recognition.”
Veritas Medical is developing a catheter – or tube inserted into patients to remove and deliver fluids – th
at helps fight infections by emitting visible light that can kill bacteria and not harm human tissue. Their product is called the LIGHT LINE Catheter™. Other members on the team include: Mitchell Barneck, a bioengineering graduate currently in medical school at Oregon Health and Science University; Martin de la Presa, a third-year student doctor; and Ahrash Poursaid, who received a bachelor’s degree in bioengineering recently.
6S Medical invented a surgical device used for laparoscopic surgery that combines the features of two necessary tools. Their device, troClosure™, provides a cost-effective tool that not only provides access through the abdominal wall but effectively closes the internal fascial wound with a simple automated system when the procedure is complete. This device provides these two features while addressing pain points for the patient (post-surgical hernias), the surgeon (risk of needle stick injuries) and the hospital (prolonged closure times).
Student founders of 6S Medical include: Mike Fogarty, a Ph.D. candidate in bioengineering; Spencer Madsen, a Ph.D. candidate in bioengineering; and Pablo Johnson, a medical resident at St. Marks Hospital in Salt Lake with degrees in bioengineering and medicine from the U.
“It is a tremendous honor to be one of 42 teams that will participate in the Rice competition from a field of 500 plus teams,” Madsen said. “This is one of many developments for us this year. We have also received funding from the Campus Founders Fund, we were finalists in the Baylor New Venture Competition, and we are currently in the finals of the International Business Model Competition.”
Both of the U teams have been mentored by Dr. John Langell, a surgeon at the University of Utah and executive director of the U’s Center for Medical Innovation.
“It’s significant that Dr. Langell is also a co-inventor of our device, it demonstrates that general surgeons are interested in a technology like ours, and additionally, Dr. Langell has the confidence in us to run this company,” Madsen said. “He has been an incredible mentor. He is always there for us, answers our text messages, meets with us regularly and is not afraid to ask the hard questions. The best mentors push you and stretch you, and that is what Dr. Langell has done.”
The teams for this year’s Rice Business Plan Competition were chosen from entrants in four categories: life sciences; information technology/Web/mobile; energy/clean technology/sustainability; and other.
More than 153 former competitors have gone on to successfully launch their ventures and are still in business today, and another 13 have successfully sold their ventures, according to Rice University. Past competitors have raised in excess of $1.3 billion in funding and created more than 2,000 new jobs.
Learn more about the Rice Business Plan Competition at alliance.rice.edu/rbpc.aspx.