A team of biomedical engineers at Case Western Reserve University is among seven of 23 research teams from the 2016 I-Corps@Ohio program selected to present to potential investors at the upcoming Ohio Collegiate Venture Showcase. The team will present its new technology in brain tumor treatment management, NeuroRadVision, Oct. 21 in Columbus. The event will highlight teams that exhibited the most successful outcomes from the I-Corps@Ohio training program and offer the most potential for success in the commercialization process.
Pallavi Tiwari, assistant professor of biomedical engineering and an associate member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, is leading the development of NeuroRadVision imaging software that distinguishes between a recurrent brain tumor and benign effects of radiation, which can appear similar on a routine MRI scan and result in unnecessary biopsy surgeries.
“Being selected to present our technology to the angel investors and venture capitalists is pretty big for us,” Tiwari said. “We are at the stage where we are looking to transition from a university-based technology to a startup, and this platform allows us to showcase our technology to the right audience.”
NeuroRadVision estimates that 30,000 to 60,000 unnecessary brain surgeries are performed annually in the United States and more than 100,000 worldwide because it’s difficult to differentiate on MRI scans tumor growth from benign radiation effects. The team was awarded an Ohio Third Frontier grant this year. The technology development has also received a Coulter translational research grant.
Nikki Modlich, program manager at I-Corps@Ohio, an initiative of the Ohio Department of Higher Education, said the program is designed to help faculty and graduate students from Ohio universities to validate the market potential of their technologies and launch startup companies. I-Corps@Ohio is modeled after the National Science Foundation’s successful I-Corps program, which seeks to increase innovation, entrepreneurship and industry collaboration.
The concept for NeuroRadVision began in 2012. The I-Corps@Ohio program involved seven weeks of intensive training to prepare for the upcoming investors’ program. Training involved learning to present an extremely complex technology in a two-minute pitch.
Tiwari is the I-Corps@Ohio team’s principal investigator. She is joined by biomedical engineering PhD student Prateek Prasanna and Gagandeep Singh, MD, medical research fellow in biomedical engineering. The team has two mentors: Steve Fening, director of the Case-Coulter Translational Research Partnership, and Anant Madabhushi, F. Alex Nason professor of biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve.
“We learned that the process of taking a technology to the market is a lot more involved than just doing the research and getting the research papers written,” Tiwari said. “It was a very enriching experience to learn to think about the market potential of our technology, understand the market needs and then to take it to the next step instead of jumping right into the deep end.”
Tiwari and her team will have eight minutes to present, rather than two minutes, which offers them a sense of relief as they make their case to potential investors.
“We are working on a prototype and, in the next year or so, we’d like to deploy it in a clinical environment,” Tiwari said. “Our hope is to have it available in clinical settings in the United States and in developing countries.”