Nanopore awarded Olin Cup, $50k investment
by Brian Feldt
Nanopore Diagnostics, a St. Louis-based startup that is developing a test that physicians can use to more quickly detect bacterial infections, was named the winner of the 2013 Olin Cup business plan competition at an event Thursday night and is being offered a $50,000 investment from Washington University.
Nanopore was founded by Washington University student Tom Cohen in October 2012. Cohen said he is licensing the technology used in the device from a University of Missouri professor who did not wish to commercialize the product.
Cohen said Nanopore’s test will allow physicians, within 20 minutes of an initial examination, to determine with 100 percent confidence if a patient has a bacterial infection.
Cohen said the test has two main applications: to cut down on antibiotic resistance, which costs the health care industry roughly $50 billion a year; and to help gravely ill patients who don’t have the time to wait for doctors to determine what is the best possible antibiotic treatment.
Cohen said Nanopore will focus on the latter.Cohen said the test is not ready for commercialization just yet and his team will spend the next four months researching before setting out on another fundraising round to take the test to market
Nanopore Diagnostics was one of two companies to win the $2,500 BioSTL award during the 2013 Startup Challenge. It was also given a $50,000 i6 grant from the BioGenerator in December.
Genetix Fusion, a biotechnology company introducing the next-generation of transfection kits (for introducing nucleic acids into cells) for biomedical researchers, and SynerZ Medical, which is developing an outpatient, endoscopically-delivered device that mimics the actions of gastric bypass surgery for treating obesity and type 2 diabetes, were offered $20,000 investments for finishing second and third in the competition.
Nanopore was also one of seven finalists for last year’s Olin Cup, where MMBiosensing ($50,000); Sparo Labs ($30,000); and Emergent Sensor Technologies ($20,000) were named winners.
The Olin Cup is organized by Washington University’s Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, which is led by Ken Harrington. The competition typically offers $70,000 worth of investments to three companies but has surpassed that mark over the last two years. Companies that win are not bound to take the investment, Harrington said. Sparo Labs, in fact, has yet to accept its offer from last year. Nanopore will likely accept the investment, Cohen said.
Harrington said this year’s group of seven finalists were among the best he’s seen in the 12 years he’s managed the competition. “The technology is moving along so fast,” he said. “St. Louis is just getting smarter about how to do deals and do good deals.