Three local bioscience and medical-device startup companies were among the seven to split a $1 million investment from Connecticut Innovations Inc.’s (CII) Pre-Seed Fund, which has now assisted more than 50 companies since its launch in 2010.
The seven companies each are receiving up to $150,000 which mainly will be used for research-and-development expenses.
Woodbridge-based GlyGenix Therapeutics is developing cures for metabolic disorders caused by genetic mutations. Its pre-seed money will be used to help develop a drug to treat glycogen storage disease type 1A; those with the disease are unable to convert glycogen to glucose in the liver, resulting in hypoglycemia. The drug, G6Pase, has already received orphan status.
InboxHealth, of Madison, is developing software to simplify doctor-patient communication, including digital bill delivery and online payments. Branford’s Tangen Biosciences is developing portable instruments and methods for molecular diagnostics. Its first product will analyze DNA in patients with active pulmonary tuberculosis.
Stamford-based EvoLux Transportation was the winner of the 2013 Sikorsky Innovations Global Entrepreneurial Challenge, and is building an online marketplace for the helicopter and aviation industries.
The other three companies include financial planning company Cashpath Financial and online audience data analytic software firm Tru Optik Data Corp., both of Stamford; and Weatogue-based Yingo Yango, which is developing a platform to link health-care and wellness resources provided by employers to individuals.
The entrepreneurial community likes to honor its own. CTNext, the state’s government-initiated innovation ecosystem honored six startups with some cash to grow at its first ever Entrepreneur Innovation Awards, which had the companies give five-minute pitches of their upcoming projects.
The six finalists were FaceChecks (Bridgeport), a software maker developing facial recognition software for security systems; AdapTac Games (Stamford), developing action and strategy games for tends with ADHD; Dura Biotech (Storrs), a biotech developing technology to improve functionality of transcatheter aortic valves; Green Buildings Online (Ridgefield), an online company developing the Poplar Network social network connecting architectural, design and construction professionals with LEED and green building practices; Secor Water (Vernon), developing a portable water filtration system as an alternative to bottled water; and VAL Health (Greenwich), a behavioral economics firm building an online platform that uses incentives to change health-related behaviors.
Each company received $10,000 for their projects, while FaceChecks won an additional $2,000 “crowd favorite” award. Secor Water scored an extra $2,000 as the “judges’ favorite.”
The pitches were judged by a five-person panel that included David Tomczyk, professor of entrepreneurship and strategy at Quinnipiac University, and Edward Goodwin, president of the Angel Investor Forum and research scientist in genetics at the Yale School of Medicine.
NEW HAVEN — The second year of the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute’s Tech Bootcamp has seen enrollment double this year.
Thirty Yale students (including two locals) from each of Yale College classes 2014 through 2017, as well as graduate students, will spend this summer learning to code and create Web applications. The program was launched in 2013 and had 15 students enrolled that year. This year’s class was selected from 127 applicants.
Each student in the Bootcamp receives a full scholarship for the program’s tuition, $1,500 in living expenses for the ten-week program, and will take part in trips to area startups and tech incubators.
The course will be taught by Casey Watts, assistant manager of Yale’s Student Tech Collaborative.
NEW HAVEN — The business and networking group Over 40 Females is starting a New Haven County chapter. The group officially launches March 18 with a 7-to-9 p.m. shindig at Madden’s Gastropub, 175 Humphrey Street in New Haven.
Over 40 Females founder Judy Goss will be on hand to tell how she has built a thriving networking community specific to the needs of over-40 female professionals. The guest of honor will be Mayor Toni Harp, the first distaff chief executive in the Elm City’s 376-year history.
$1 million-plus committed to technology startups
ROCKY HILL — Connecticut Innovations Inc. (CII), the state’s quasi-public technology investment arm, has announced new investment commitments totaling $1.05 million through its Pre-Seed Fund to seven startup ventures focused on innovations in bioscience, information technology, financial technology and medical devices. The new commitments make CII the sixth most active early-stage investor nationwide.
“These new investments through our Pre-Seed Fund mark a significant fund milestone,” said CII CEO Claire Leonardi. “We have now invested in more than 50 companies through the fund since its launch in 2010.
“Additionally, we’re excited about being recognized nationally among the top ten most active seed/angel investors,” she added. “With these recent pre-seed investments, we are building CII’s, and Connecticut’s, pipeline of promising, young businesses — those that will create important future job opportunities.”
In this latest funding round CII has pledged up to $150,000 to seven startups, including three in greater New Haven.
GlyGenix Therapeutics Inc. of Woodbridge is focused on developing cures for metabolic disorders caused by genetic mutations. The company will use CII’s funding to continue research and development on its lead drug candidate, AAV-G6Pase, for the treatment of glycogen storage disease type 1a (GSD1a). Individuals who have this disease become hypoglycemic unless continually fed. AAV-G6Pase has received orphan drug designation from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), which gives the drug exclusivity in the marketplace for seven years following FDA approval of the drug.
Madison’s Inbox Health, LLC is developing software that simplifies doctor-patient communication, with an initial focus on digital bill delivery and acceptance of payments online. The product will automate many facets of patient billing while monitoring patient interaction with the bill and facilitating the payment through debit, credit or bitcoin transactions. Health-care providers using the service have access to in-depth analytics, providing insights into patient interaction with bills and payments. Inbox Health will use CII’s dollars to continue product development and market rollout.
Tangen Biosciences Inc. of Branford is developing portable instruments and methods for use in molecular diagnostics. Its first product, which is being developed with assistance from CII’s investment, will be a point-of-care, DNA-based molecular diagnostic instrument for use in active pulmonary tuberculosis diagnosis. Physicians and other health-care professionals will be able to take sputum samples from patients in clinical settings, load them into the instrument and receive diagnostic results in under an hour.
EAST HARTFORD — The Connecticut Technology Council has nominated 59 women throughout the state as part of its tenth annual Women of Innovation awards, recognizing professionals and students for being innovators, role models and leaders in science, technology, engineering and math.
The 59 nominees include 13 local women:
• Michelle Addinton, Hines Professor of Sustainable Architectural Design at Yale University
• Kathy Ayers, director of research for Wallingford gas manufacturer Proton OnSite
• Manon Cox, president and CEO of Meriden biopharmaceutical developer Protein Sciences Corp.
• Julie Dorsey, professor of computer science at Yale
• Mary Kay Fenton, CFO and senior vice president Achillion Pharmaceuticals, New Haven
• Andreanne Johnson, information technology principal consult at Sikorsky Aircraft
• Paula Kavathas, a professor at the Yale Department of Laboratory Medicine
• Yvonne Kielhorn, CEO and founder of New Haven software developer Why Science
• Nuriye Elif Kongar-Bahtiyar, associate professor at the University of Bridgeport’s Department of Technology Management & Mechanical Engineering
• Lynn Madden, president & CEO of substance abuse treatment center APT Foundation, New Haven
• Elaine Pagliaro, grants coordinator for the University of New Haven’s Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science.
Local student nominees include Eeman Abbasi of Amity Regional High School; and Lu Han, of Cheshire, a graduate student and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Connecticut’s Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering.
The women were nominated by their peers and selected based on professional experience, innovation history, leadership, problem solving and creative thinking skills, or in the case of students, accomplishments, research and academic achievement.
Winners in each of eight categories — biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, software, computer hardware, advanced materials, medical devices and information technology, plus a student category — will be announced at the Women of Innovation awards ceremony at Southington’s Aqua Turf Club on March 27.
MIDDLETOWN — The first of the state’s nine microgrid power systems that Gov. Dannel Malloy touted last summer is up and running.
The $694,000 natural gas-powered turbine is now online at Wesleyan University. It will provide power to the emergency shelter at the Freeman Athletic Center, which will serve Middletown residents in the event of a large-scale power outage.
The $18 million microgrid program was part of Malloy’s 2012 storm bill (PA 12-148), passed after the devastating effects in Connecticut and the Northeast of Hurricane Irene and an October 2011 nor’easter, and Superstorm Sandy and Winter Storm Nemo in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
The nine microgrid projects in eight communities would provide round-the-clock power to government organizations and emergency services and facilities.
The microgrids in the other towns (Woodbridge, Bridgeport, Fairfield, Groton, Hartford, Storrs and Windham) are expected to come online over the next 18 months.
NEW HAVEN — The Elm City enjoys a relative abundance of resources, events and infrastructure for entrepreneurs and their startup businesses, including access accelerator programs that emerging entrepreneurs can use to workshop and hone their enterprise from the idea stage to a nearly ready-for-market stage. Even the worldwide Startup Weekend events roll into town each year.
A worldwide pre-accelerator program, NEXT, will come to New Haven in April to help early-stage startups prepare for investor opportunities and accelerators. New Haven NEXT consists of weekly three-hour sessions over five weeks from April 1 to April 29 at the Grove co-working space, which will have teams test their ideas and field advice from mentors and peers. The best NEXT teams will advance to a First Look Forum to pitch their ideas in front of accelerators, investors and other media.
Applications are accepted through March 27. More information can be found at swnext.co.
CHESHIRE — There are some new rare disease treatment updates for pharmaceuticals developer Alexion, which just entered into an agreement with two other firms and has attained approval for one of its drugs in Europe.
The company is researching and developing Laminin-111, a protein-replacement treatment for the ultra-rare merosin-deficient congenital muscular dystrophy (MDC1A) with Massachusetts muscular dystrophy pharmaceutical maker Prothelia as well as the University of Nevada/Reno. The deal gives Alexion an option to acquire Prothelia as well.
MDC1A is a life-threatening disease caused by deficiency of laminin-211 protein, which provides structural integrity to muscles. The Laminin-111 drug shows promise in treatment based on early studies. There are no currently approved therapies for the disease.
Another of Alexion’s drugs, Soliris, which prevents complications after organ transplants (particularly delayed graft function), was granted “orphan” status in Europe. Orphan drugs are made to treat rare medical conditions; getting official status aids in marketing and other potential financial opportunities.
The state of Connecticut’s nearly 20-year-old website will soon get with the times, as a major redesign and upgrade is on the horizon.
CT.gov will be redesigned by Connecticut Interactive, a subsidiary of NIC, which develops government websites and online services. The company plans to open a Hartford office and hire ten to 12 employees there.
The redesign will make the site compatible on mobile devices, and will add interactive services to the sites of state agencies to allow residents to apply for or renew various licenses, file complaints or document hazardous conditions, as well as access information from government databases.
The upgrades will be carried out without taxpayer money, funded instead through online service fees applied to some services such as providing motor vehicle driver histories. A new Connecticut Business Portal is also in the offing, intended to consolidate the state’s various business resources and services for easy access.
The upgrades will roll out in stages throughout the balance of calendar 2014.
Meanwhile, a new website for CTNext — Connecticut’s “innovation ecosystem” — was recently re-launched, boasting a new design and links to resources and news for Connecticut entrepreneurs and startups.
HARTFORD — The Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT) has awarded grants to several technology-based startups working on orthodontic components, solar roofing and retinal implants.
The three grants, each between $30,000 and $50,000, came through the state’s Manufacturing Technical Assistance Program (MTAP) to fund research and development, fabrication methods and manufacturing processes.
New Ortho Polymers is a UConn Ventures company developing equipment to produce clear filaments to be used in orthodontic braces that may having an impact on future product designs.
SolVilla Energy is developing a solar energy roofing shingle, and will be utilizing CCAT’s 3D plastic printer system to assemble strings of photovoltaic cells.
Another UConn Ventures company, LambdaVision, is developing a high-resolution retinal implant to restore vision for those suffering age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.
UConn Ventures is an offshoot of the UConn Office of Economic Development, and aims to turn faculty- and staff-developed technology into new startups.