September 07, 2016

New World Angels invests $538K in Gainesville medical device company

It's been an active year for the New World Angels.

This week, New World Angels announced the completion of its third investment in OBMedical, the developer of a wireless fetal monitor.

NWA closed a $538,000 investment into OBMedical’s Third Series Convertible Notes.  OBMedical has recently begun sales and marketing of the LaborView, an FDA-approved wireless device designed to replace current cumbersome fetal heart monitors used during labor.   The OBMedical LaborView interfaces to existing legacy fetal monitors and provides enhanced performance combined with total freedom of movement as compared to ultrasound devices in common use.

“New World Angels is delighted to continue to support the growth of OBMedical and the expansion of a product that improves the labor and delivery process for women,” said NWA President Steve O’Hara, in a statement.  “New World Angels’ member, Dr. Scott Dresden, has worked closely with management since our original investment in September, 2014 serving on OBMedical’s board for the last two years.”

Previously, New World Angels had invested $1.1 million in OB Medical’s Series 1 Convertible Notes and $527,500 in OB Medical’s Series 2 Convertible Notes.  The Series 1 and Series 2 Convertible Notes were converted into Series A Preferred Stock in May 2016. OBMedical is based in Gainesville.

New World Angels, based in Boca Raton,  is a group of 63 accredited, private investors, operators and entrepreneurs dedicated to providing equity capital to early-stage entrepreneurial companies with a strong presence in Florida.

NWA's 2016 investments include both add-on investments in portfolio companies and new investments including Synkt Games, a South Florida-based sports fantasy game startup, Miami-based Kairos, a facial recognition software company, and Gainesville-based Admiral, which has developed software to prevent ad blocking. Its biggest investment this year has been $750,000 in Polarean, a Durham, N.C., company with Florida operations that has developed a device to improve the readability of lung scans. Early this year, NWA announced it led a $1 million investment round in Miami-based Raw Shorts, a Miami startup that enables users to easily create explainer videos. 

 

August 12, 2016

Fort Lauderdale biotech company receives small-business research grant

By Marcia Heroux Pounds / Sun Sentinel

Fort Lauderdale-based Vigilant Biosciences announced Thursday it has received a Small Business Innovation Research grant for more than $200,000 from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. The 15-month grant will finance research to develop a diagnostic test that utilizes optical imaging in combination with an oral rinse to detect a tumor-initiating biomarker for oral cancer, the company said. 

Vigilant Biosciences, founded in 2011 by Matthew Kim, has developed an oral rinse test for use by dentists for the early detection of oral cancer. Kim was inspired by his family history of oral and other cancers to start the company. In May, Vigilant Biosciences made its oral rinse test available to dentists in the United States. Earlier that month, Vigilant announced it had received European Commission approval to market its oral cancer test. The company has raised $12.5 million from investors to develop its product line.

Read more: Vigilant Biosciences raises $5 million to take oral cancer detection products to market

August 01, 2016

Startupbootcamp Digital Health announces inaugural Miami cohort

Selection days

Startupbootcamp, Europe’s largest family of innovation programs, on Monday announced the 10 teams that will join its Miami-based digital health accelerator. A diverse range of solutions – from pre-natal remote monitoring to Latin America’s largest telehealth provider – were selected.

“We are proud that our inaugural class includes a diversity of founders, product category, stage and geography. We focused our selection on later stage companies with real revenue and traction poised to scale across our network of healthcare customers. We are hopeful that Miami will soon become recognized as a global hub for healthcare innovation," said Christian Seale, founder and managing director of Startupbootcamp in Miami.

After reviewing close to 300 applications from over 40 countries, Startupbootcamp invited 15 digital health companies  to attend Startupbootcamp’s Selection Days this past weekend. Over two days, the companies were evaluated by executives from the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, University of Miami Health System, Jackson Health System, Memorial Healthcare System, Aetna, Abbvie, Univision, Microsoft, GE Healthcare and top-tier healthcare investors.

After the two-day selection process, the following program finalists were invited to form part of the 2016 cohort.

Post-seed:

Babyscripts (US) - The first mobile, clinical solution to seamlessly provide remote monitoring of an OB’s patient population in-between visits.

CareAngel (US) - Care Angel has developed ANGEL, the world's first Artificially Intelligent Caregiver providing device-free care management and telemonitoring via telephone.

Mediconecta (Venezuela/Miami) - The largest telehealth provider in Latin America. Currently operating in Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Chile and expanding to the US. [Read more here.]

QoC Health (Canada) - QoC Health helps health organizations take their digital health ideas to scale / commercialization with its patient-centered technology platform.

TruClinic (US) - A modular cloud-based  telemedicine platform that combines video collaboration with clinical workflow management solutions to help healthcare providers better serve their patients.

VoiceITT (Israel) - A voice-translation technology platform for people with speech disability;  compiling a propriertary sound bank of unintelligible speech for research purposes.

Pre-seed:

Aces Health (US) - The first end-to-end clinical trial management app for patients and researchers.

Overl.ai (US) - A healthcare automation intelligence company that makes it easy for providers to control the apps and web services they use to deliver care and communicate with patients.

Keep Livin (US) - A patient engagement platform with a mission to eradicate health disparities that adversely impact racial/ethnic communities.

LineHealth (Portugal) - A hardware company helping you to take the right pill at the right time, leading to a longer and healthier life.

The 10 companies have raised $13.85 million and are valued at over $48 million collectively.

Startupbootcamp is also welcoming two Entrepreneurs-in-Residence: Carevoyance of Miami, a data analytics platform that helps medical device companies expand their market, and Personomics, a healthcare company founded by Jordan Kavana to revolutionize consumer-driven wellness by providing health, diet, beauty and lifestyle solutions based on your DNA.

The selected companies are provided with seed funding, matched with an international network of healthcare customers to accelerate sales and given access to a network of top-tier venture investors to raise seed-Series A financing to scale their business. The accelerator program will begin Sept. 6 and culminate with a Demo Day on Dec. 1.

Startupbootcamp launched in Miami late 2015 with $2 million in Knight Foundation support  and a diverse group of founding partners including Microsoft’s BizSpark Program; Miro Ventures LLC; Nicklaus Children’s Hospital; Univision;  Maurice R. Ferré, executive chairman of Insightec and co-founder of MAKO Surgical; Jaret Davis, co-managing shareholder of Greenberg Traurig; and Michael Simkins, president and CEO of Innovate Development Group leading the Miami Innovation District project. 

“By focusing on health, [Startupbootcamp] is really building out the ecosystem for innovation," said Dr. Narendra Kini, CEO at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. "We hope to see the next major healthcare players originate in Miami.” 

The program offers startups access a mentor and alumni network from across the globe and partnerships with leading hospital systems, insurers and investors  to accelerate and scale their businesses. The program also aims to focus its companies on the eradication of healthcare disparities.

"We look forward to seeing how the program’s model, previously successful in Europe, will bring new energy and talent to Miami’s innovation ecosystem and provide a fresh avenue for startups to grow and thrive in our city,” said Matt Haggman, program director for Miami at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Startupbootcamp programs are currently active in 13 other cities across the US, Europe and Asia, with other cities and vertical programs to soon be announced.

 

 

Read more on Startupbootcamp here.

Read "Prescription for economy: Healthcare startup energy" here.

Selection days2

Photos were taken during Startupbootcamp's  Selection Days in Miami July 30 and 31 at Building.co. At top, Christian Seale addresses crowd; above, one of the teams meets with selection panelists.

 

July 11, 2016

Vigilant Biosciences raises $5 million to take oral cancer detection products to market

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Vigilant Biosciences is developing products for the early detection and intervention of cancer. On Monday, the Fort Lauderdale life sciences company announced it closed a $5 million round of financing, bringing its total amount of funding raised to date to $12.5 million.

Existing investors participating in the Series B2 financing included White Owl Capital Partners, venVelo and others, as well as a group of angel investors.

Vigilant expects to use the funds to support international commercialization of its OncAlert Oral Cancer product line and the advancement of its OncAlert Labs product line. The funding also will support the continued research and development of additional products in Vigilant’s pipeline.

The funding round helps successfully transition Vigilant Biosciences to a commercial-stage company that will deliver breakthrough solutions to aid clinicians in the early detection of oral cancer, said Matthew H.J. Kim, founder, chairman and CEO of Vigilant Biosciences. “These funds will also enable us to continue research and development of additional applications of our unique biomarker technology.”

There are more than 440,000 new cases of oral cancer each year worldwide, particularly among high-risk populations, such as current and former smokers, heavy drinkers or those diagnosed with human papillomavirus, or HPV-16. Vigilant Biosciences’ product line based on patented technology currently includes the OncAlert Labs OraMark Test, a laboratory-developed test available only through OncAlert Labs, a CLIA certified laboratory; and the OncAlert Oral Cancer RAPID Test and the OncAlert Oral Cancer LAB Test, both CE Marked and available in select markets outside the United States.

In May, Vigilant said it will begin its first U.S.-based testing of its OncAlert Labs OraMark Tests, the first quantitative oral rinse test to accurately measure a tumor-initiating and stem cell associated biomarker for oral cancer detection at its earliest stages, the company said. Also in May, the Vigilant was cleared to launch its OnAlert Oral Cancer RAPID Test, an oral rinse test, across Europe.

May 25, 2016

Calling all healthcare entrepreneurs and innovators

MiamiHerald24MAY

By Christian Seale

If you are reshaping the future of healthcare, Startupbootcamp Digital Health wants to meet you. And offer our help.

With our partners at the Knight Foundation, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, the University of Miami Health System, Univision and Microsoft we are building Miami into a global hub for healthcare innovation. We encourage you to join us.

As part of our mission to find the best healthcare entrepreneurs globally and plug them into Miami’s growing ecosystem, we have traveled to over 20 cities to meet fearless, ambitious and extraordinary founders like yourself. If you haven’t already, reach out and set up a virtual or in person office hours in Miami.

Our applications close on June 10. So, the time to act is now!

We are looking for entrepreneurs working at the intersection of healthcare and technology and focused on making our healthcare system more equitable, efficient and accessible for all.

Our promise is simple: you will achieve one year of progress in three months. Take a look at the over 300 startups that have already done so.

For the companies selected to our program we will provide seed funding, mentorship, six months of free office space in the heart of Miami, in kind-services from Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Salesforce for Startups, Intel and Paypal and access to the most relevant network of corporate clients, investors and mentors.

During our program, you will interact with national network of healthcare providers and insurers including Ascension, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, Jackson Health System, the University of Miami Health System, Duke University Health System, Mount Sinai, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Florida Blue, Aetna and Healthways among many others. Over 100 mentors will help you refine, grow and scale your business and prepare you to present at our 400+ attendee Demo Day in Miami.

We invite you to join us as we build Miami into a globally recognized hub for innovation and together transform the future of healthcare.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Christian Seale is Founder and Managing Director of startupbootcamp Miami. Follow on Twitter @sbchealth. For more information, email digitalhealth@startupbootcampdotcom.

Read More: Startupbootcamp chooses Miami for first U.S. accelerator

February 10, 2016

Help solve 'one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century'

Join MIT Hacking Medicine Feb. 20-21 at the Idea Center at Miami Dade College 

 

Startupbootcamp

By Christian Seale

Startupbootcamp Miami and the Idea Center at Miami Dade College are excited to bring MIT Hacking Medicine to Miami for a two-day hackathon* aimed at developing innovative solutions to stem the tide of childhood obesity.

This event represents MIT Hacking Medicine’s first time in Miami. We welcome all innovators, entrepreneurs, technologists, healthcare and educational professionals, food and beverage purveyors and other public and private sector community members to join us on February 20-21 to help us build healthier communities and improve the future health for all our children. Apply here by Feb. 15 to participate!

MIT Hacking Medicine has a storied history. Having facilitated nearly 50 hackathons across a dozen countries and multiple US states, it has worked in conjunction with organizations such as the Kauffman Foundation, Massachusetts General Hospital, Microsoft, Samsung, GE, Merck and AthenaHealth among many others.  Teams coming out of these events have raised over $70 million in investment funding and partnered with national and international healthcare institutions to pilot their solutions. Venture-backed darling Pill Pack, a full-service pharmacy that delivers a better, simpler experience for people managing multiple medications came out of one of the first MIT Hacking Medicine hackathons.

This video of last year’s GrandHack gives an idea of what to expect.

 

We’ll kick off 9am on February 20th with opening words from Dr. Narendra Kini, the CEO of Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, Karen Weller from the Miami-Dade County Health Department and a few special guests soon to be announced.

Participants will have the opportunity to pitch a problem/solution to all in attendance. Thereafter, most teams will form organically while others will have already come together before the hackathon. We’ll provide plenty of nourishment and guidance along the way. Mentors from Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, Ascension, the University of Miami, CVS Health, Rokk3r Labs, Health Semantics, The LAB Miami and many others will be on hand to assist teams as they develop their solutions. Univision will cover the event.

The hackathon will culminate February 21st in the afternoon with final pitches to win $5,000 in cash prizes and Amazon Web Service credits. Teams will present to a panel of five judges: Eric Wenke, Head of Corporate Transformation at Baptist Health, Dr. Norma Sue Kenyon, Vice Provost of Innovation at the University of Miami, Gabriela Perez, Partner at PiVisions LLC, Mark Everett, President of Miami Dade College Medical Campus, and Abhinav Gautam, Co-Founder of Carevoyance and Entrepreneur in Residence at Startupbootcamp Miami. 

With the rate of childhood obesity in the U.S. quadrupling in the past 30 years we encourage you to join us to solve what the World Health Organization has recently named “one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century.”

We look forward to seeing you there!

________________

For more information visit Gohackhealth.com or reach out at contactus@gohackhealth.com

See our Facebook page here.

Christian Seale is Founder and Managing Director of Startupbootcamp Miami.

 

November 16, 2015

CappSci Inventors program awards inaugural innovation prizes

Class 1

005 CappSci Local DS

Rivah Winter, top photo by World Red Eye, presents to Miami-Dade high school students and later that evening, all the CappSci finalists, including Prasoon Diwakar, above in photo by David Santiago of El Nuevo Herald, talk with community members at their booths at Gramp's in Wynwood.

 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

To win the CappSci Inventors Prize, it wasn’t enough for the scientists and engineers to be able to present their work to fellow academics and scientific leaders — they also had to win the hearts of a group of students representing three high schools and startup community members attending “Nerd Nite” in Wynwood. That’s just one of the ways that the new prize program is unique.

CappSci, a science nonprofit that runs innovation prize programs, and the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science announced that Andrew Baker and Rivah Winter of the University of Miami and Prasoon Diwakar of Purdue University were selected as the winners of two inaugural CappSci Inventors challenges; one called for solutions for protecting coral reefs and the other was for protecting humans from carcinogens. And when the new museum opens next summer, patrons will be able to watch the innovations come to life over the course of a year.

The CappSci Inventors program will distribute $1 million over five years to 10 inventors, offering fresh approaches to solving major global problems. Winners received a $100,000 grant to support a 12-month residency at Miami’s new Frost Science to build out and test their early stage technology.

Baker and Winter, both Miami residents, won for their project on stress-hardening corals, which involves priming corals with heat-tolerant processes to increase stress resistance and make reef restoration more effective as ocean temperatures rise. At their booth at Nerd Nite at Gramp’s bar in Wynwood last week, Winter, a PhD student, said she was excited about the possibility of getting out of the lab and being able to interact with museum goers and the science community in such an interactive and public way, combining her passions for scientific research and education.

Diwakar, a resident of Indiana and a research scientist, won for his proposed Laser-induced Breakdown Spectroscopy Detector, a portable instrument for real-time detection of carcinogens in airborne material as well as solid or liquid samples. His solution, a sampling kit that can be used by anyone, is quick, effective and less expensive than existing solutions, making it accessible to schools, airports, museums, government and private office buildings and other venues, Diwakar said on Thursday while showing off his booth. He, too, likes the idea of “bringing science to the people.”

Gillian Thomas, president and CEO of Frost Science, said that the residency with the Frost Science Innovation Labs will offer mentorship, important contacts and critical feedback. “The visitor interface is a critical component of the program and showcases the capacity of the Innovation Labs to engage the entire community in addressing 21st century challenges,” she said.

Inventors will work in an open laboratory housed in the museum’s Innovation Labs, Thomas said. Museum visitors will be able to observe the inventors in action, see a real-time log of their progress and share ideas with them. Accompanying exhibits will explain the underlying science and technologies in coral restoration and carcinogen detection.

The inaugural winners were chosen from dozens of global entries and were among six finalists who participated in a rigorous final evaluation process, which included input from Miami-Dade County Public Schools students, the local startup community and an expert judging committee. Winners were selected based on their invention’s technical potential and suitability for public participation in a museum setting.

“Part of the prize is about technology, but part of it is engaging the community, and we wanted winners who could do both,” Ted Caplow, CEO of CappSci, said Monday. “There’s tremendous excitement in Miami around trying to make Miami a tech city, and CappSci Inventors is my effort to play an important role in that. We have a new and unique model to harness the power of the crowd to incubate startups and foster good ideas that have the potential for global impact.”

The other two finalists presenting coral reef research were Remy Okazaki and Benjamin Mason of the University of Washington and Steve Whalan of Southern Cross University in Australia. The other two finalists with carcinogen-detecting solutions were Vinay Bhardwaj of Florida International University and Jose Almirall and Anamary Tarifa, also of FIU.

For the carcinogen category, the judges were Norma Kenyon, University of Miami’s vice provost for innovation; Svetlana Shtrom, director of technology commercialization at the University of Central Florida; and Jon Yoo, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Buffalo. For the coral reefs prize, judges were Reia Guppy, assistant professor at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (Marine Sciences and Environmental Studies Department); Carrie Manfrino, founder of the Coral Reef Conservancy; and Ken Nedimyer, founder of the Coral Restoration Foundation.

Interestingly, the high school honors students from Miami Beach Senior High, Sunset Senior High and WilliamH.TurnerTechnicalSchool chose the same winners as the judges, Caplow said. 

Caplow said next year’s CappSci contest will do a better job of conveying the full spectrum of what the prize offers from a career standpoint; it’s not just money to build a technology, but the opportunity to gain professional exposure to mentors and other experts as well as investors and potential partners. He said CappSci will continue the interactive judging process. “All of our finalists said they really appreciated the opportunity to speak to school kids in the morning, adults in the evening in an informal setting, and have a more formal pitch to experts the next day. ... My hope is that anyone who is involved with any of our contests learns something and gains something.”

For more information on CappSci Inventors, visit www.cappsci.org.

In addition to the CappSci Inventors program, CappSci is also leading the Miami Science Barge project, a public floating marine sustainability lab that won the inaugural 2015 Knight Foundation Cities Challenge and will be stationed near Frost Science.

Nancy Dahlberg; 305-376-3595; @ndahlberg.

Vigilant BioSciences gets approval to market OncAlert product in 28 European countries

Vigilant

Vigilant BioSciences, an innovator and developer of solutions that aid in the early detection and intervention of cancer, announced Monday that it has CE Marked its OncAlert LAB Assay for oral cancer risk. What that means: CE Marking allows Vigilant Biosciences to market the product in the 28 countries of the European Union as well as Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. 

The OncAlert LAB Assay is a noninvasive, accurate and cost-effective tool for clinicians involved in the diagnosis and treatment of oral cancer. The test, an oral rinse, measures specific protein markers known to indicate risk of early stage cancers, aiding in the diagnosis of oral cancer, along with other clinical factors.

Vigilant Biosciences licensed technology from the University of Miami, and its creator,  Dr. Elizabeth Franzmann (pictured above with CEO Matthew H.J. Kim), is a co-founder of the company. The venture-backed company has multiple distribution agreements secured across the EU and expects to begin shipping the product during the first quarter of 2016.

Kim, who was recently named Entrepreneur of the Year by BioFlorida, called the approval a "major milestone" for the company. "With numerous distribution agreements in place and an aggressive marketing strategy, we are looking forward to making an impact on the high rate of late-stage oral cancers diagnosed globally," he said.

See in-depth story about Vigilant here.

November 02, 2015

Prescription for economy: Healthcare startup energy

 By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

South Florida’s history of healthcare entrepreneurship has received a shot of new startup energy, and some business leaders see it as the prescription for a healthier local economy.

Consider these developments:

Startupbootcamp, Europe’s largest accelerator that is expanding globally, will announce Monday that it is bringing an accelerator focused on digital health to Miami, its first in the United States. Funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and other local and industry partners, its mentor-driven program will help 30 high-potential health-tech startups grow in South Florida.

Three weeks ago, the Cambridge Innovation Center, a technology-focused co-working company, announced it will open a center next year that could eventually house 500 startups in the University of Miami Life Science & Technology Park. That will provide a critical link between the startup community and Miami’s large health district.

Not only are support services for healthcare-related startups growing, but South Florida biotech, medical device firms and health-tech companies have taken the lion’s share of this year’s venture capital in South Florida and almost half of the state’s take. The area’s three leading funding rounds, in fact, are early-stage companies in this industry: Fort Lauderdale telemedicine company MDLIVE’s $50 million financing in the second quarter, Boca Raton-based electronic medical record software provider Modernizing Medicine’s $38 million financing in the third quarter, and Dania Beach orthopedic robotics company OrthoSensor’s $19 million in the first.

“In the last six months, more than 100 business plans have come across my desk, compared to three years ago, maybe 10 or 20,” said Dr. Maurice R. Ferré, who co-founded robotics company MAKO Surgical, which was acquired by Stryker for $1.65 billion in 2013. He’s now involved in four healthcare-related startups. “People are really excited about this area — it is starting to get some buzz.”

To be sure, the life science and health-tech ecosystem is widely dispersed throughout the three-county area. There isn’t a strong, focused cluster like in Boston or Silicon Valley, but there is rich history here dating back more than half a century. Many of the area’s medical device companies trace back in some way to Cordis Corp. in South Florida, where one of the first pacemakers was invented. In the pharmaceutical industry, serial entrepreneurial billionaire Phillip Frost has the golden touch, including founding and selling generics maker IVAX to Teva Pharmaceuticals for about $7.9 billion in 2006. Now he’s innovating again with Miami biotech company Opko Health.

Beyond the history, the infrastructure is here, too. Miami houses the second-biggest health district in the United States after Houston. Three universities, eight hospital facilities with more than 30,000 beds, nearly a dozen research institutes such as the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis and the Diabetes Research Institute, the UM life science park and dozens of early-stage companies operate in a 25-square block area just north of downtown Miami.

In Broward and Palm Beach, medical device firms and life science research are flourishing, helped by the openings of permanent facilities of Scripps Research Institute in 2009 and Max Planck Florida Institute for NeuroScience in 2012. Adding to the momentum was the fast growth of Davie-based MAKO, which is spawning more robotics device companies, including OrthoSensor and Neocis.

In Miami-Dade, there are 1,078 life science companies employing about 10,597 people at an average wage of $79,453, according to the Beacon Council, Miami-Dade’s economic development agency. There are more than 500 companies in Broward also providing wages nearly double the county’s average, including most recently India-based Lupin, which opened a Center of Excellence for Inhalation Research in Coral Springs, creating 45 jobs and plans for more, according to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, Broward’s economic development counterpart.

These numbers don’t typically include health-tech companies classified under different categories, such as MDLIVE and Miami’s CareCloud, an electronic health-records provider, which together employ more than 500 people.

But these feisty health-tech companies are roaring onto the scene as the critical third leg in the life science-medical device-digital health ecosystem, a trend to which economic development leaders and universities pay close attention. These companies provide tools for virtual doctor visits, big data, electronic health records, pharmacy price comparisons and personal wellness assessments, for example. Unlike their life science brethren with long development cycles, health-tech companies can ramp up and generate jobs quickly.

They are an outgrowth of the merging of South Florida’s traditional healthcare industry with an emerging tech ecosystem building in the tri-county area. And as clusters of specialized companies begin to form in the technology ecosystem, healthcare is a natural attraction as it is one of the region’s strongest industries. Already, the area is seeing sub-clusters forming in medical devices, stem cell therapies, robotics and mobile health technologies, to name a few.

Norma Kenyon certainly does. The chief innovation officer at UM’s Miller School of Medicine runs U Innovation, which consists of the Wallace H. Coulter Center for Translational Research focused on funding promising biomedical research, and the university-wide Office of Technology Transfer, responsible for the commercialization of UM intellectual property.

Currently her office works with 44 UM-related startups in the life sciences, medical devices and healthcare-technology industries, including Heart Genomics, InflamaCORE and MobileCare. Nearly three-quarters of them were formed in the past three years, she said.

VigilantTwenty-eight of the startups have licensed UM technologies, and a growing number of them have received funding. For example, Vigilant Biosciences (pictured here) is getting ready to launch its first product, OncAlert, in Europe aimed at discovering the risk of oral cancer. It has received nearly $8 million in funding, including from the Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research. Dr. Eckhard Podack, a cancer researcher who recently passed away, was the originator of three UM startups, including the first IPO of the crop, Heat Biologics.

“This innovation piece is a very important part of the future health of research and development of new treatments in the healthcare space,” she said. “The technologies available in other schools and colleges become very important as we move forward. Engineering really is becoming very integrated with healthcare. It’s a very exciting time.”

U Innovation started an Idea Portal in the past year to faster connect with and help faculty and students with their life science or health-tech ideas. The ideas are pouring in, and many are coming from engineering, Kenyon said. In the next year, she hopes to start an early-stage fund and offer subsidized space for startups to work.

Ferré sees a similar trend at Florida International University: “I see a lot of excitement from these engineers wanting to start companies and be part of this ecosystem.”

At the intersection of tech and healthcare in South Florida, Ferré sees opportunities in the computational analysis of genomics data, as well as personal activities, areas where Startupbootcamp can help find, accelerate and fund startups, he said. “In this new world of personalized medicine, what technology is doing is democratizing, making it a lot less expensive. ... As an economy we are spending 18 percent of our GDP on healthcare — there’s a huge opportunity to create efficiencies.”

Ferré is also seeing interest from new funds, and to be sure, there has been progress on the investment front. So far this year, healthcare-related companies in South Florida, including health-tech, biotech and medical device companies, have nabbed nearly $176.8 million in venture capital — more than three-quarters of South Florida’s total of $232 million and more than double what South Florida healthcare companies in the sector received in all of 2014.

Venture capitalist Karl Elderkin said he’s excited about the number and quality of deals flowing from South Florida as well as the growth in infrastructure and support services, such as incubators and university programs. He also likes the area’s attractiveness to smart millennial entrepreneurs: “I think that is going to change the economy of South Florida.”

He is founder and managing partner of Athenian Venture Partners, an early-stage venture capital firm with offices in Fort Lauderdale and Ohio. The firm, with $105 million under management, specializes in healthcare and tech, generally making $2 million to $8 million investments over multiple rounds. It plans to raise its fifth fund shortly and hopes to start making investments next year.

Companies like Magic Leap and Scripps attract very talented people from outside Florida “and it is people like that that create more opportunities for more talented people,” said Elderkin, who is also on the board of the Florida Institute. “If our thesis is right, we think we will be early into a market that is very poised for growth. We think South Florida is a good bet.”

Still, funding continues to be a challenge and South Florida and the state receive less than 1 percent of the national venture capital total. BioFlorida, the state’s industry organization, said in its 2015 report that it’s not surprising since Florida’s companies are still mostly at the very early stages, too early for firms like Athenian, and development cycles are long.

EntopsisStartups have had to look far and wide for funding. Hialeah’s Entopsis (pictured here), which is developing a universal platform that would allow diagnosis for multiple diseases easily, cheaply and quickly, found its first support in California, through PayPal billionaire Peter Thiel’s Breakout Labs. Then the company raised a seed round from Miami’s Krillion Ventures and G3 Capital, as well as investors in Hong Kong.

As healthcare entrepreneur-investor Samuel Reich sees it, there are three pieces to a strong ecosystem, and South Florida already has one: the research with universities and institutions such as Scripps, UM, FIU and FAU. “We need capital, and we are working on that, but I think it will follow the science, and we need human capital,” said Reich, executive chairman of early-stage Biscayne Pharmaceuticals. “We need more entrepreneurs, which will bring the money, which will keep the scientists here.”

Todd Holt agrees. He has studied the life science industry for the past nine years, first as part of Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development organization, and currently as director of business development for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance.

He’s particularly excited about Nova Southeastern University’s Center for Collaborative Research, opening next year. The $80 million center, which will feature one of the state’s largest web labs, an IBM supercomputer and a tech incubator, is aimed at expanding NSU’s basic research in areas like heart disease, cancer and autism and will be putting into place systems to spin out technologies, including helping founders find funding and navigate the regulatory maze.

“That is where we see the returns,” Holt said. “Once commercialized, we can work to have it manufactured here.” That has attracted support services, such as companies providing contract manufacturing or regulatory support.

Not only is South Florida’s diverse population and hospital-rich ecosystem attractive to the startup and scientific communities for beta-testing, clinical trials, customer bases and partnerships, but Jaap Donath, senior vice president of research and strategic planning at the Beacon Council, said Miami-Dade has also seen increased interest from healthcare-related companies locating Latin American offices here. “These are good paying jobs and put us on the map as a center for life sciences.”

Nancy Dahlberg; 305-376-3595; @ndahlberg

See story about Startup bootcamp here.

See story about four startups in the spotlight here.

 

BY THE NUMBERS

$79,453: Average wage in the life sciences industry in Miami-DadeCounty

$44,140: Overall average wage, Miami-DadeCounty

2: Rank of Florida among states for the number of medical device companies

92 percent: Growth of Florida biotech industry since 2008, by number of companies

44 percent: Growth of U.S. biotech industry since 2008, by number of companies

$176.8 million: Amount of venture capital flowing into South Florida life science, medical device and health-tech companies so far in 2015

Sources: Beacon Council, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BioFlorida, Miami Herald research

RESOURCES

A small sampling of resources available to healthcare entrepreneurs:

Enterprise Development Corporation of South Florida: Provides mentoring and other support,http://enterbusiness.org/

Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research: Provides funding and support for early-stage healthcare companies spinning out of Florida’s universities, www.florida-institute.com

New World Angels: Not exclusively for healthcare-related investments, but 40 percent of the angel fund’s deals have been in the space, newworldangels.com.

Startupbootcamp Miami: A new accelerator solely focused on digital health opening in Miami in 2016, http://www.startupbootcamp.org/accelerator/digital-health.html

Venture Hive: An accelerator founded in 2013 in downtown Miami that includes healthcare as one of its verticals, venturehive.com.

 

Robotics startup in the spotlight: Neocis

  Neocis

Alon Mozes, left, and Juan Salcedo are CEOs of Neocis. 

Neocis targets dental implant market

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Alon Mozes worked at a number of young companies, including MAKO Surgical from the early days through its IPO. Then the Miami biomedical engineer took the plunge with his own robotics startup, Neocis.

Neocis is creating a robotic guidance system for the fast-growing dental implant market. The system provides the dental surgeon guidance both physically and visually before and during surgery, aiming to reduce surgery time and improve accuracy and outcomes through a minimally invasive approach. The surgeon’s procedure is planned in the software beforehand and the robot guides the drill while the doctor can also see everything on a large screen. “It’s perfect execution of your plan every time,” said Mozes. And if the surgeon needs to change her plan, that can be done on the spot within the software.

Mozes grew up in South Florida, and after getting his bachelor’s and master’s in engineering at MIT, he got his start in Silicon Valley. He worked for SportVision, an innovator in special effects for sports broadcasts like that yellow first-down line, gaining knowledge that would later come into play in robotics. But he wanted to come back to Miami, and returned in 2004 to study biomedical engineering at the University of Miami, earning his Ph.D. a few years later.

In 2005, he became one of the first 20 employees at MAKO Surgical. Mozes helped the robotics company develop software for its ground-breaking Rio system for orthopedic robotics surgery, create its first cadaver lab, and get its first FDA clearance.

He met his future co-founder in Neocis there as well: Juan Salcedo. Salcedo, who received his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering and master’s in biomedical engineering at Florida International University, was a key player in the design of Mako’s first and second generations.

Both men believed there was an unmet need and a lot of potential in the fast-growing dental implant market for robotic surgery. The $4.5 billion dental implant market, driven by an aging population and rising awareness about oral health, is estimated to reach nearly $8 billion by 2020, according to a 2014 research report.

They began working on their idea about 2009, Mozes said. Their prototype, made with scrap metal, looks nothing like what they have now, but it is proudly displayed in their office. “Nights, weekends, in the garage, that’s our beginning,” Salcedo said.

Neocis raised seed funding — its first investor was Fred Moll, who founded Intuitive Surgical and is well-known in the industry — at the end of 2012 and hired its first employee in January 2013. The company’s next multimillion-dollar injection came from a mix of local investors from Mozes’ Mako network as well as some from California.

Now with 11 employees, Neocis has completed its first-generation system and is going through the FDA process. Neocis is raising more money now.

Still, funding has been a challenge, Mozes said, because South Florida is still not seen from the outside as a typical environment for robotics and medical device innovation. But he’s happy to be seeing a growing healthcare innovation ecosystem here, with companies like MAKO, OrthoSensor, Modernizing Medicine and CareCloud among the leaders of the current generation: “It’s great to see them growing here and finding success.”

See all four healthcare startups in the spotlight here.