North Carolina Startup: Nanoly Wins Duke Startup $50,000 Spring Challenge

(photo: Sophia Palenberg/The Chronicle)

A women owned startup called Nanoly has just won the Duke startup $50,000 spring challenge. Duke University’s $50,000 spring startup competition ran from February until this week. The startups in the challenge had to fit into one of three tracks; the functional track, special interest track or pilot track. Within the functional track were 5 categories; Clean Energy, Healthcare and Life Sciences, IT, Internet and Media, Social Enterprises and other. The grand prize winner came from the Healthcare and Life Sciences category.

Ting Ting Zhou (Duke University), Nanxi Liu (Berkeley) and Crystal Lee (Stanford) founded Nanoly with one common goal, to use a nano-sized solution to solve a macro sized problem. While you may not think about it the problem that these three women are hoping to solve is actually a big problem and one as Americans we may take for granted.

Zhou explains in her pitch video that while developed countries have access to vaccines and diseases like small pox are pretty much eradicated, emerging countries don’t have access to vaccines. One of the main reasons emerging countries don’t have access to vaccines can be boiled down to refrigeration and electricity.

More after the break

Vaccines need to be stored at a temperature between 35 and 45 degrees farenheit. In some cases doctors who service emerging countries with free clinics have to hike for two days just to get to their patients. Driving to these locations is impossible and electricity is miles and miles away.

To tackle this problem Zhou, Liu and Lee have developed a solution, that the vaccines can be stored in and do away with the need for refrigeration. They are hoping to continue their research so that their product can withstand temperatures of 100 degrees and up to 30 days without refrigeration.

When a doctor prepares to leave her clinic to administer vaccines in a village without electricity the doctor can store the vaccine doses in the solution. The doctor can then store the vaccines in their backpack and hike or do whatever it takes to get to the village. Once the doctor is ready to administer the vaccines they simply shine a UV light onto the vial for 15 seconds and the vaccine is ready to be administered.

This healhtech startup eliminates the need for costly refrigeration, portable refrigeration and electricity.

Nanoly received $50,000 from Duke Univesity so that their research on this word changing product can continue.


Here’s Nanoly’s page on the Duke startup competition site

Here’s information on the challenge

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  1. 3

    Stumbled on this page after reading about Crystal Lee coming in 1st runner up in Miss America. I am amazed there are no comments on it. This is a wonderful solution (no pun intended) for this problem! Congrats to these amazing women who started Nanoly.

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