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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

July 13, 2010 at 3:43 PM

Tech Alliance showcases early stage ventures

Five startups are presenting today at the state Technology Alliance’s Innovation Showcase, an event intended to connect more early stage companies with investors.

Half the companies that have presented originated at the University of Washington, probably because the school’s more aware of the program, said Linden Rhoads, the school’s vice provost for commercialization.

Here’s a rundown of their presentations.

Assay Dynamics: An automated medical testing platform with a special card to analyze fluids and run multiple tests simultaneously on the same fluid sample. A key innovation is that the machines automatically calibrate every time they’re used.

“What we’re trying to do is allow physicians to do more and more testing in their office,” founder Kjell Nelson said.

The Seattle company’s technology was supported with $4 million in federal NIH funding to UW professor, Paul Yager. It also has five issued patents and two more in the pipeline. It sees a $3.3 billion potential market for first set of tests that can be done with its system, which could eventually be used for testing in pharmacies and developing countries.

Numerous tests can be run on the card but initial plans described by Nelson are for four, including glucose, cholesterol and vitamin D.

A doctor’s office might invest $3,000 in the system and pay $30 for the testing cards, which Nelson said is competitive because the cards perform multiple tests at once. It hopes to sell about 100 of the machines and 100,000 cards in 2013.

Kaleetan Pharmaceuticals: Co-founder Grand Risdon explained that his company’s developing therapeutic cancer vaccines, used to treat patients with cancer and suppressed immune response.

It draws on principals similar to Dendreon’s Provenge therapy procedure, but Risdon said Kaleetan’s vaccine platform is more easily manufactured and injectable.

The primary inventors are UW scientists Jeffrey Ledbetter and Martha Hayden-Ledbetter.

Mercer Island-based Kaleetan is preparing for clinical trials with dogs with cancer, an 18-month process that will cost $3 million. Then it would begin trials with humans and seek a partner to pursue FDA approval.

Vitriosic: Federal efforts to reduce building energy consumption by 50 percent by 2015, plus energy efficiency credits, have created an opportunity for Vitriosic’s electrochromatic glass.

The glass can darken or become shaded by applying electricity, which changes the state of a layer of polymer sandwiched in the material.

The concept isn’t new but Vitriosic’s system doesn’t require as much electricity and may be powered with solar energy, according to co-founder Todd Ostrander. A key difference is that Vitriosic’s material won’t draw electricity after its state has changed.

Electrochromatic glass can eliminate the need for shades and can be centrally managed to control a building’s heating and cooling system.

Vitriosic working with a large glass manufacturer to test the longevity of its organic polymer-based system. It was invented by Minoru Taya, a mechanical engineering professor at the UW who worked on the technology for more than 20 years.

Ostrander said the company should be able to offer its product for under $50 per square foot, or less than half the cost of a competing product now on the market. Vitriosic plans to focus on developing the technology and licensing it to glass manufacturers after commercial testing this year.

Commercial glass costs up to $16 per square foot, Ostrander said, so Vitriosic’s aiming to get its product as low as $16 to $25 per foot.

The company plans to raise $100,000 in seed capital and another $500,000 to get to market.

Mobisante: Sailesh Chutani left Microsoft’s mobile group as a director to start Mobisante, which is developing a mobile, affordable ultrasound system that could make the technology more accessible.

The system uses mobile phones and an ultrasound wand. It could be used for primary care, emergency care and obstetrics. Markets include the military and emerging markets.

Mobisante is now testing a beta version of its product. It’s working on getting FDA approval and has an exclusive deal with the manufacturer of the sensor component.

Chutani said the company has a chance to be the first one to produce a commercial ultrasound system that sells for less than $5,000. It’s working to make ultrasound “practically free and more broadly useful.”

Seattle has a cluster of ultrasound companies that should help the company recruit talent, he said. Some of that talent was in the room, apparently, because Chutani was asked detailed questions about the type of sensor in the wand. A radiologist also noted that the training of operators is critical with ultrasound systems. “You’re going to have to keep the malpractice lawyers from your door,” he warned.

Redmond-based Mobisante hopes to raise $6 million to $8 million, which could be enough to reach a sustainable point after three years of sales.

“The business has a pretty good shot of growing to a $100 million revenue stream,” Chutani said.

The event concluded with a demonstration of a pico projection system being developed by Enravel, a company started by UW engineer Brian Schowengerdt.

It uses a 1 by 9 millimeter projection head. The component includes a piezoelectric actuator threaded through a fiber, tipped with lenses.

Comments | More in | Topics: Biotech, biotech, Education

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