A scientific instrument company based in College Station and led in part by Texas A&M University experts was the recipient of the Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation’s Launch Prize at the 2021 Texas A&M New Ventures Competition.
HelioWave Technologies LLC earned the $10,000 prize at the conclusion of the event held May 19-20 at Kyle Field on the A&M campus.
Formed in collaboration with A&M’s NanoBio Systems Lab in the College of Engineering, HelioWave is working to revolutionize the evaluation of biopharmaceutical products’ sterility. The company cites conventional sterility testing being conducted separate from reagent production and requiring multi-day incubation periods. The lack of real-time monitoring can lead to large batches of reagents being unknowingly contaminated and requiring disposal.
HelioWave offers HelioSAFE, an in-line, real-time, high-sensitivity and 99.99 percent accurate sterility testing and monitoring system. Lab-on-a-chip microfluidic-based miniaturized technology is used to provide high-resolution sensing using a small footprint and a low-cost high-volume microfabrication manufacturing process. Initial commercialization funds have been sourced by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Small Business Innovation Research Program.
“On behalf of HelioWave, we are honored to accept the BVEDC Launch Prize, which will be utilized to help realize and commercialize our HelioSAFE system,” said HelioWave CTO and Interim CEO Adrian Guzman. “We are committed to ensuring that therapeutic and reagent manufacturers’ production lines remain contamination-free. In the future, we hope to bring new and innovative technology to the sterility and bioburden testing industry, reducing the overall cost of life-saving therapeutics for patients.”
The BVEDC Launch Prize is non-dilutive money supporting the strategic economic development objectives of the community and is intended to contribute to the venture’s accelerated market entry. Each year, it goes to a competing company with its headquarters and core operations in Brazos County. According to event organizers, 17 percent of companies which have competed throughout TNVC’s history have been based in the county.
“The Brazos Valley continues to make an impact in the one-of-a-kind Texas A&M New Ventures Competition,” said BVEDC President/CEO Matt Prochaska. “Our organization is proud to be a community partner and Platinum Sponsor of TNVC and help showcase local commercialization resources available to all the competing companies. We are excited to support HelioWave with our Launch Prize and look forward to seeing their early success in the Brazos Valley translate into a worldwide impact in the bio industry.”
TNVC is a joint effort by the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), Texas A&M Innovation Partners and the Texas A&M University System. It brings together statewide entrepreneurial support organizations and promotes the commercialization of new and emerging technology, recognizing Texas-based companies with high-growth potential. Seed funding awarded to the competitors serves to help execute ideas and advance product development.
The 16 semifinalists in 2021 made presentations to a slate of judges. Six companies advanced to present to a live audience attending both in-person and virtually, then answered questions. Those companies not advancing to the finals took part in an elevator pitch competition, with audience members voting on the one-minute presentations by representatives for each company.
TNVC awarded approximately $500,000 in this, the seventh edition of the event. Entering this year, participating companies have raised more than $246 million, with 85 percent still in business. Ninety-seven percent are either still in business or successfully exited.
Starling Medical, a company developing an AI, tech-enabled alternative to catheters for those dealing with neurogenic bladder dysfunction, won the $50,000 first place prize in the 2021 TNVC.