A team from the Medical College of Wisconsin has been named one of 13 winners of the international Neuro Startup Challenge, an open innovation competition designed to bring promising medical inventions to market.
The winning teams, who each received a $2,500 prize, were selected based on their business plans, financial models and live pitches. They are now in the third and final phase of the challenge, which is to launch new businesses that commercialize National Institutes of Health-conceived and developed inventions.
The MCW team, led by postdoctoral research fellow Stephanie Cossette, created the biotech company Angio360 Diagnostics LLC of which Cossette is president and chief executive officer.
The privately-held, pre-development company specializes in antibody-based products focused on improving the detection and treatment of canine and human cancers. Utilizing patented biomarkers uniquely associated with tumor angiogenesis/blood vessel growth, Cossette said Angio360’s AngioTracer product line will revolutionize the cancer diagnostic market through earlier detection of tumors and rapid assessment of treatment efficacy.
“We were pretty excited…Winning the competition really validated our ability to take our science skills and make that into a business,” Cossette said. “We’ve always decided regardless of the (competition) outcome that we would launch the company. It’s just great that we got more feedback and help from the challenge organizers.”
The team registered the company in March, and it is currently raising funds for the NIH license application and the development of the proof-of-concept product.
“Our products will be used to monitor cancer treatment efficacy and tumor recurrence, as well as initial tumor diagnosis, and will be designed for the veterinary and human oncology markets,” Cossette said.
Initially, Angio360 plans to make two products for the human market and three for the veterinarian market. The latter, she said, has a large unmet need for diagnostics, as people are spending more money on pets than they previously did.
The company is seeking $50,000 to $100,000 in pre-seed funds to develop a proof-of-concept product and $500,000 in seed funds to start research and develop analysis and to pay for research space.
Cossette said her team is currently looking for a location, but anticipates Angio360 will move into a space in a local accelerator laboratory complex by late summer.
Angio360 is comprised of seven core team members and nine advisors and mentors, according to Cossette. The advisors and mentors are from MCW, the BloodCenter of Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Veterinary School, the non-profit Bridge to Cures, and The Commons entrepreneurial skills accelerator program in addition to local biotech companies.
More than 578 students and entrepreneurs in 70 teams competed in the challenge that was launched in August 2014. Teams competed in two phases during which they were mentored by experts to produce business plans, financial models and live pitches. In the final phase, the winning teams will be mentored to launch their startups, incorporate their business, apply for licensing and execute development and regulatory requirements.