Virolock Technologies Inc. Wins $10,000

On Tuesday, March 1, The Ben Franklin TechCelerator Program hosted the Final Presentations and Award Ceremony for their ninth class of graduates. Virolock Technologies Inc. won $10,000 to advance their company. 

The TechCelerator has provided a solid foundation for startups. Out of the 46 teams who graduated, 43 have formed companies, $7.1 million has been generated in startup funds, and $5 million has been generated in revenue.

This particular session was designed specifically to support the Invent Penn State commercialization initiative. All participants were Penn State researchers, and many of their products are not yet ready for the market. As a result, the session served to introduce Penn State researchers to key factors affecting their development of inventions they create in their work at the university. Throughout the eight-week program, the teams focused chiefly on product development.

Jim Pietropaolo, Director of the TechCelerator’s newly expanded programming, led the cohort through their coursework. Pietropaolo is a medical device industry veteran with a unique combination of large company (J&J, GE-Lunar, Hitachi-Aloka) and entrepreneurial experience working with tech-based startup companies. His experience with angel and venture capital funding is of particular value in his role assisting the development of new companies through Ben Franklin’s TechCelerator program. 

Prior to the final presentations, Pietropaolo explained the evaluation criteria for the contest:

1. Describe the technology and its applications.

2. What is the product? Why is it valuable?

3. Define the market opportunity.

4. Outline the development plan needed to bring the technology to market. How much financial capital will be required and where will you find it?

The graduating teams included:

Virolock Technologies Inc.
Virolock Technologies have developed a system for concentrating samples to improve detection of infectious viruses. They use a point-of-care PCR device coupled with a disposable cartridge comprising a nano-tube “trap” to collect virus analyte.

BioRegen has developed a controlled-release system for protein drugs. This system can be used in wound care products to treat cuts, burns, and diabetic wounds more effectively. The protein drug release is much slower in BioRegen’s products compared to their competitors’ products. The result is an accelerated recovery.

AvoColor is a natural food colorant based on the pit of an avocado. As a growing number of food and beverage manufactures are switching from artificial to natural coloring, this team can offer a colorant that covers 40% of the color spectrum. Competitors use paprika and turmeric, which are more expensive because these substances have use as food additives, whereas avocado pits are a waste product.

AnyMDx is a mobile, point-of-care, genetic diagnostic platform consisting of a compact analyzer, a disposable disease-specific reagent cartridge, and an optional smartphone app for result interpretation. The platform can be used to detect viruses but will initially focus on sexually-transmitted diseases, such as HPV.

Visual Light Communications Technologies
VLCT has developed a faster and safer visual light-based broadband wireless network technology. It will be especially useful for aircrafts, hospitals, vehicles, and consumer electronics. Unlike traditional WI-FI, VLC technology has tolerance for blockage and shadowing, making it a potentially more reliable source for wireless connections.

AbDesign BioPharma
AbDesign has created software for designing new antibodies to be used as therapeutic drugs. This new method is much easier and quicker than the current approach to antibody generation.

Penn State’s Vice President of Research Neil Sharkey was in attendance and delighted in watching his Penn State colleagues pitch their technologies. 

“This is one of the fun things that I do around here,” Sharkey commented. “Today’s presentations in particular, showed us some exciting technologies. I think projects like these bode well for the future of Invent Penn State.” 

Ben Franklin’s Jim Pietropaolo wrapped up the presentations, complimenting the teams on their hard work throughout the session.

“I really enjoyed working with these folks—I had a blast,” he said. “They worked really hard and are all very motivated. If they are a sign of the motivation Penn State researchers have, then I think the Invent Penn State initiative has some great opportunities.”