When you think about Memphis Tennessee thoughts of music, culture, barbecue and Elvis Presley often consume those thoughts. You may not be quick to associate the birth place of Rock & Roll and the overnight package (FedEx) with startups, innovation and bio medical devices.
Since 2006 Memphians have band together to launch several entrepreneurial and startup resources. In fact the city of just under 650,000 residents has an infrastructure of resources for startups and entrepreneurs that would rival cities twice it’s size.
Four of those resources, Seed Hatchery, the local startup accelerator program; Memphis Bioworks Foundation, the local bio and life sciences incubator; along with Innova and MB Ventures (both venture capital firms) have created Zeroto510.
They’re calling Zeroto510 the first cohort-based medical device accelerator. To that end Eric Matthews the President of Seed Hatchery is working with Allan Daisley, who runs Memphis Bioworks, to apply the Seed Hatchery and familiar tech incubator model to medical device ideas, and turning them into startups.
Charleson Bell, a PhD candidate at Vanderbilt University, and the co-founder of Zeroto510 resident company, BioNanovations explained: “Doctors and researchers have great ideas that often times get shelved because they don’t have the resources or skills to apply a business model to those ideas”.
That’s exactly why Seed Hatchery and BioWorks started Zeroto510. Chief Brand Officer at LaunchYourCity, the company that manages Seed Hatchery told us: “In addition to seed capital and mentorship the six companies in Zeroto510 also receive advice on marketing their idea and pitching it to investors”.
Mike Hoffmeyer CEO and Co-Founder of Memphis based Paytopia was a recent graduate from the 2012 class at Seed Hatchery, and told us “I consider myself a smart guy but after a few minutes of Zeroto510 pitches I was totally lost”. Hoffmeyer is helping the Zeroto510 residents with refining their pitches into laymen’s terms.
For a better understanding to Bell’s company for instance. Bell and his co-founder Andre T. Stevenson developed separate research projects at Vanderbilt. Bell had discovered a new nanoparticle that could be used with far better accuracy than what’s currently available, to identify and track virus’, bacteria and infections. Prior to Zeroto510 Bell would roll through his presentation despite losing people’s attention because he was talking over their heads.
Now his pitch includes a great description of a nanoparticle “imagine taking one piece of human hair and dividing it by 1000, that’s roughly the size of a nanoparticle”. The PhD scientist seems a little uneasy about the example because you can’t objectively measure one piece of human hair, but it gets the point across.
The name Zeroto510 comes from the term 510K clearance which is the clearance given to medical devices. With a 510K a similar device or process that has already been approved by the FDA is compared to the new process or device, which fastracks the approval process at the FDA.
The goal around ZeroTo510 is to take the medical device and process startups from 0 to a point where they are ready for their 510k
There are six startups in all going through the current session at Zeroto510 which are:
- BioNanovations uses nanotechnology to more quickly diagnose specific types of bacterial infections. Rather than treating with broad antibiotics and waiting days for test results, TestQuick provides physicians a portable option that can recognize a flesh-eating bacteria in only 30 minutes.
- HandMinder is building a glove-like device that aids the rehabilitation process for stroke victims. Self-contained and battery-operated, the glove provides an affordable and convenient alternative for regaining motor control.
- Nanophthalmics brings engineering concepts to clinical medicine, creating microscopic tools with etched glass for ocular surgery which will help remove scar tissue for patients with retinal or corneal diseases.
- Randall Surgical is working on soy-based surgical positioners, an eco-friendly alternative to the foam currently used that contains petroleum and releases toxic chemicals when incinerated after use.
- Restore Medical Solutions increases the speed and effectiveness of the sterilization process necessary for surgical instruments. Their product could lead to cleaner tools and the ability to perform more surgeries in a day- wins for both hospitals and patients.
- Urova Medical is building UroGuide, a device that can be implanted during an outpatient procedure that provides a permanent and safe solution to stress urinary incontinence in women.
Like most incubators, the current session at Zeroto510 will culminate with an investor pitch day later this afternoon. If the program is effective, the audience will have no trouble understanding the brilliant minds behind these startups.
Check out LaunchMemphis.com
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