q1 startup roundup


Startup Roundup

Want to find out what’s new with VentureWell early-stage innovator teams? Read the VentureWell Startup Roundup! In every Roundup we share announcements, accomplishments, and other good news from teams in our community– now compiled in a convenient quarterly report.

Here are the Q1 Highlights:
Mission Produce and Hazel Technologies partner on shelf-life extension for avocados
GreenMark Secures Additional Funding for Cavity Identification and Treatment
Innoblative’s SIRA™ RFA Electrosurgical Device Receives FDA Clearance


GreenMark Secures Additional Funding for Cavity Identification and Treatment
GreenMark Biomedical Inc. completed a $1.2 million Series Seed Preferred Stock round to further develop and commercialize its patented nanoparticle-based dental technology. The 2017 ASPIRE startup developed a dental diagnostic technology that can find pre-cavities earlier and enable targeted treatment delivery. The University of Michigan’s MINTS program, Invest Michigan, and Red Cedar Ventures investments followed earlier funding from Blue Water Angels, Western Michigan University’s BRCC, and Invest Detroit Ventures to close the round.

Partnerships & Sales

Mission Produce and Hazel Technologies partner on shelf-life extension for avocados
Mission Produce, the world’s leader in producing, distributing,  and marketing fresh Hass avocados, and Hazel Technologies, a 2015 E-Team and 2016 ASPIRE participant, have announced a partnership to extend the shelf-life of avocados. The two companies have spent over a year of testing Hazel Technologies’ post-harvest solution, designed to produce ripeness and reduce spoilage, extending the shelf-life of fruit and vegetables. Hazel Technologies also received VentureWell’s Sustainable Practice Impact Award at our annual OPEN Conference.

Technology Breakthroughs

Sonavex To Begin Commercial Roll-out Of Its Blood Clot Detection Device Q1 2019
CEO of Sonavex Inc, David Narrow, sat down with Proactive Investors at the 11th Annual Biotech Showcase in San Francisco, announcing that the company is scheduled to begin the commercial roll-out of its blood clot detection device in 2019. The Baltimore-based medical device company, a 2013 E-Team, recently developed EchoSure, its first product to receive FDA clearance, that detects blood clots after surgery to prevent surgical failures.

SunCulture launches RainMaker2 with ClimateSmart™
SunCulture, a 2015 Powering Agriculture Xcelerator team, announced the launch of their new product RainMaker2 powered by ClimateSmart™, a smart, solar-powered irrigation kit that brings precision irrigation to smallholder farmers in Africa for the first time. By combining their technology with an Internet of Things (IoT) platform, wireless sensors, and advance machine learning algorithms, SunCulture is able to predict trends to optimize performance in real-time and offer affordable, easy-to-understand precision farming tools that were previously unimaginable for a smallholder farmer.

Innoblative’s SIRA™ RFA Electrosurgical Device Receives FDA Clearance
Innoblative Designs, Inc., a 2013 E-Team and private medical device company, advanced-energy surgical solutions, announced it received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance for its SIRA™ RFA Electrosurgical Device. The novel radiofrequency ablation (RFA) applicator that supplies energy for use in electrosurgery, specifically for intraoperative coagulation and ablation of soft tissue.

Competitions & Awards

M2D2 Announces 2019 $200K Challenge Finalists
The University of Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (M2D2) announced the finalists in its 8th annual $200K Challenge after reviewing a record-setting 150+ applications. Among them were several VentureWell early-stage innovators, including:

  • Kinnos, a 2015 E-Team, who developed ‘Highlight’, a powdered color additive for bleach solutions that provides visualization of treated regions of the protective gear, eliminating uncertainty of complete coverage.
  • Leon Scientific, a 2018 NSF I-Corps team and rising biotech startup, who created the world’s first microscope that can mechanically map living cells in 3D.
  • Teratonix, a 2017 Cleantech UP team, who developed a maintenance-free power source to replace batteries by converting ambient radio waves, ubiquitously available in urban environments, to electricity for implanted medical devices.

The Challenge winners were announced on Wednesday, April 10 at 5:00 pm at an Awards & Networking event hosted by Mintz in Boston.

Mantis Composites and De Oro Devices Selected As Finalists For The 2019 Central California Angel Conference
Mantis, a 2016 E-Team, and De Oro Devices, a 2019 E-Team, were among the top six finalists selected for the 2nd annual Central California Angel Conference. Teams will showcase their inventions and compete in a live pitch competition for a chance at $100,000 in angel investment.
Mantis Composites is developing machinery that manufactures carbon fiber composite components that exceed the standards of current methods. De Oro Devices is developing a device for Parkinson’s patients suffering from “freezing of gait” that attaches to mobility assist devices to reduce time frozen, number of falls, and the number of freezing episodes that occur. The winner will be announced at the Pitch Competition event later this month.

Burnflex wins VentureWell’s OPEN Minds Showcase
Burnflex from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez won the VentureWell 2019 OPEN Minds Showcase, an annual exhibition of multidisciplinary groups of students working to bring science- and technology-based inventions to market. The event provided an opportunity for VentureWell-supported student inventor-entrepreneurs to demonstrate their ground-breaking innovations and practice their pitches to faculty, funders, industry experts, and VentureWell staff. Burnflex was awarded the top prize of $3,000

Vita Inclinata Technologies Wins 2019 Rice Business Plan Competition
Vita Inclinata Technologies, a 2015 E-Team and OPEN Minds participant, emerged as the top startup company in the 2019 Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC). The team took home a grand prize totaling nearly $700,000 in cash and prizes, which includes a $350,000-plus Investment Prize from The GOOSE Society of Texas, Treasury services provided by Bank of America ($5,000), Business Plan software provided by Palo Alto Software, and the opportunity to ring the closing bell at the NASDAQ Stock Market in New York. In addition to the grand prize, Vita also won the $200,000 OWL Investment Group Prize, the $15,000 Polsinelli Tech Investment Prize, and the $15,000 Polsinelli Energy Technology Investment Prize.
Several other VentureWell innovators also claimed top prizes, including:

  • spotLESS Materials, a Cleantech UP alum from Penn State University, winning the $200,000 GOOSE Society Investment Prize; $100,000 TiE Houston Angel Group Investment Prize; $50,000 Courageous Women Entrepreneurs Prize; $10,000 Poorna Uppala – Women Empowerment Prize
  • Treyetech, a 2017 E-Team Grantee, winning the $10,000 Courageous Women Entrepreneurs Prize and $20,000 JLABS@TMC Life Science Startup Prize

The annual event is one of the world’s largest student startup competitions– this year’s award total was a record $2.9 million.


Eben Bayer of Ecovative on NPR’s Joe’s Big Ideas. Bayer talks about how he developed the idea for his mycelium packaging
Eben Bayer of Ecovative Design, a 2007 E-Team, was recently featured on NPR’s Joe’s Big Ideas in a series entitled, “Changing The World, One Invention At A Time.” In a captivating video, Bayer talks about how he developed the idea for his mycelium packaging– and how his invention caught the imagination of others.

Maria Artunduaga Featured In Article by Big Ideas@Berkeley
Maria Artunduaga of Respira Labs was featured in an article for Big Ideas@ Berkeley, entitled, “Maria Artunduaga’s Mission to Manage Chronic Lung Disease.” Artunduaga’s startup, a 2018 E-Team, relies on a wearable technology that provides continuous monitoring to patients and doctors by detecting the trapped air in the lungs associated with COPD. The article takes a deep dive into her journey as an entrepreneur as she scaled her invention from idea to impact.

Shay Shethi from Moral Fiber named to the 2019 Grist 50!
Shay Shethi, CEO of 2015 E-Team Moral Fiber (formerly known as Ambercycle), was recently named to the 2019 Grist 50!, a list of innovators working to “fix the biggest challenges that face our globe” and find solutions that give new hope for the future. In 2015, Shay Sethi founded Ambercycle as a way to recycle plastic bottles. Then he realized that polyester fabrics in mass-market clothing were actually a bigger source of plastic pollution, since polyester, a form of plastic, is made from oil. He pivoted, rechristening his company Moral Fiber, and developing a chemical process to separate polyester from mixed-material textiles and turn it into new yarn for clothing. Moral Fiber aims to unveil sustainable garments from its L.A.-based pilot plant later this year, and begin partnerships with large clothing companies by 2020.

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