NeuroMap was named winner of the 2010-11 UC San Diego's Entrepreneur Challenge (E. Challenge) earlier this month, scoring the organization $57,000 in cash and startup services. A total of five finalist teams pitched a panel of judges during an evening reception held at the Neurosciences Institute, competing for over $100,000 in award money.
The criteria to apply and compete, said former E. Challenge CEO Jason Steiner, is that a founding member of a team must be a student or postdoc at , The Scripps Research Institute, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, Salk, or the . Those who are within one year of graduation are also permitted to participate.
This year’s teams included:
First Place Winner: NeuroMap
Award: $57,000 in cash and services
There is no strategy as to how to prescribe any of the five major drugs used to treat major depression, said NeuroMap Chief Scientific Advisor Dr. Alexy Terskikh, which is why he and Rady MBA student Daniel Norton are using stem cells and full genome sequencing in hopes of developing a way to determine the right kind of antidepressant medication for each patient.
“At the current time it can take up to 10 months to find the right drug to treat major depression,” Terskikh said. “Depression is a major problem in our society that we have to deal with and we need to do it immediately.”
Terskikh said NeuroMap will utilize the funds to ensure provisional legal applications are complete, to make additions to their website, and to build the company.
Second Place Winner: DevaCell
Award: $28,000 in cash and services
DevaCell is developing a fully automated, hand-held, low-cost molecular diagnostic instrument. Their technology not only has unrivaled sensitivity and specificity of quantitative pulmonary exchange reaction (PCR); a very sensitive and specific molecular diagnostic tool, but the device would make this technology available anywhere from the clinic to the field.
At current, PCR technology is extremely expensive, said team DevaCell President Inanc Ortac, and through using DevaCell’s technology, the cost could be drastically cut.
Ortac said DevaCell will utilize the money to procure the intellectual property and secure licensing.
Third Place Winner: Interra Energy
Award: $15,500 in cash and services
Interra Energy is a development-stage company founded by Thomas Del Monte that is engaged in the design, manufacture, sales, marketing and deployment of a biochar and power production system called the Interra Energy Forge. This system is a 2nd generation carbonization and energy hybrid technology that converts yard waste and other clean biomass wastes into agricultural biochar and clean energy. Interra Energy was also awarded $2,000 cash as a track prize for the Clean Track Division of the E. Challenge.
High Tech / IT Track Prize Winner: iConsent Medical
Award: $2,000 cash
It wasn’t until Dr. Brad Pruitt first saw the iPad come out that he came up with the idea for iConsent Medical. After that time, Pruitt came up with a concept that marries interactive tools with a small, pocket-sized electronic multimedia device that will allow doctors and their patients to have an interactive discussion about medical procedures.
Marrying those concepts, Pruitt said, could help increase patient satisfaction and decrease the risk of medical malpractice suits.
Biotech / Life Sciences Track Prize Winner: Oculeve
Award: $2,000 cash
Team Oculeve developed a novel medical device to treat dry eye disease. Their approach is simple, and aims to provide “effective, simple relief that far outperforms the current standard of care.”
The team consisted of two biodesign fellows at Stanford University; Garrett Cale Smith and Michael Ackermann. Smith is also a PhD candidate in UC San Diego’s bioengineering program.
In the past five years the E. Challenge has raised and awarded nearly $400,000 in prizes to enterprising students.