Neuro Startup Challenge selects 13 winning teams to launch startups for unlicensed NIH technologies to improve brain health

May 21, 2015, 08:26 ET from Heritage Provider Network

BETHESDA, Md., May 21, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Thirteen winners of the Neuro Startup Challenge, an open innovation competition designed to bring promising medical inventions to market, were announced today by the Heritage Provider Network (HPN) in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Center for Advancing Innovation (CAI).  The winning teams were selected based on their business plans, financial models and live pitches and will move forward to phase three of the challenge to launch new businesses to commercialize 16 NIH-conceived and developed inventions.  These inventions include therapeutics, diagnostics, prognostics and medical devices designed to improve brain health.

"We applaud the talented individuals that competed in this challenge to produce high quality deliverables," said Richard Merkin, MD, Founder and CEO of HPN.  "These deliverables put them on the right track to bring new products to market to improve the quality of care and life for those who suffer from devastating brain-related illnesses."

More than 578 students and entrepreneurs in 70 teams competed in the challenge that was launched in August 2014. Teams competed in two phases during which they were mentored by experts to produce business plans, financial models and live pitches. In the final phase, the winning teams will be mentored to launch their startups, incorporate their business, apply for licensing and execute development and regulatory requirements. The winning teams are:

Challenge #1: A novel compound for treatment of disorders with cognitive dysfunction for example attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
Winner-Tulane University 1A
Finalist-Wake Forest University 1,2A

Challenge #2: A novel therapy for neurodegenerative diseases for example Alzheimer's disease
Winner- Johns Hopkins University 2A
Finalist- Illinois Institute of Technology 2A- Great Lake Neuroscience 

Challenge #3: A method of treating an enzyme deficiency disorders which causes neurodegeneration with small molecule
Winner- California Institute of Technology 3A

Challenge #4: Novel Dopamine D2 Receptor Antagonists and Methods of Their Use
Winner- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 4A

Challenge #5: A device to simulate the impact of brain trauma for explosive blast-induced Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and early stage TBI diagnosis
Winner- University of Pennsylvania 5A

Challenge #6: A novel drug delivery method for treatment of brain injury and disease - focusing on Central Nervous System (CNS) disorders, such as stroke, hemorrhage, or TBI
Winner-Northwestern University 6A

Challenge #7: A novel treatment for vascular disease/injury/inflammation in vasculature such as carotid artery that supplies blood to the brain
Winner-Tulane University 7A

Challenge #8: A brain cancer specific target that can be used in diagnostics and potentially therapeutic applications
Winner- University of Pennsylvania 8A

Challenge #9: A tumor diagnostic marker for new blood vessels formation that can be used for early detection of brain tumors
Winner-Medical College of Wisconsin 9A
Finalist-Cambridge CCN 9A

Challenge #10: A new compound for treatment of Neurofibromatosis Type 1
Winner-University of Texas at Houston 10A

Challenge #14: A motion correction method to reduce MRI artifacts during brain inspection
Winner-Buckeye SmarterImage 14A

Challenge #15: A novel MRI contrast agent to improve the visibility of internal body structures during MR imaging
Winner- Duke University 15A

Challenge #16: Multiplex Assay for Detection of JC Virus
Winner- Washington University in St. Louis 16A

"Today, progress in brain-related illnesses depends on new ways to rapidly advance medical inventions so that patients suffering from devastating brain diseases have greater options," said Rosemarie Truman, founder and CEO, CAI.  "Thanks to the very generous funding support of HPN and the inventions developed by the NIH, CAI has had the opportunity to foster the next generation of entrepreneurs to develop and commercialize these inventions that hold the greatest promise. While our first challenge -- the Breast Cancer Startup Challenge -- blazed new trails, we are thrilled to have increased overall engagement by 400 percent in the Neuro Startup Challenge." 

"I believe the Neuro Startup Challenge provided an invaluable learning experience for the teams, enabling them to develop a better understanding of company building and early stage drug development," said Neuro Startup Challenge Judge, Scott Weiner, partner, Pappas Ventures. "I was very impressed by the business and scientific creativity applied by the teams. This type of thinking should allow them to successfully advance the NIH inventions."

"We are pleased to be working with HPN and CAI on these crowdsourcing challenges to advance NIH inventions while at the same time giving hands-on, real world experience to up and coming business entrepreneurs," said Thomas Stackhouse, Associate Director, NCI Technology Transfer Center.

For more information on the challenge, please go to:


Heritage Provider Network, Inc. (HPN) is on the cutting edge of the accountable care model of healthcare delivery: coordinated, patient-doctor centric, integrated health care systems that represent the future of health care in the United States. HPN and its affiliates operate in California, New York and Arizona providing high quality, cost effective healthcare to more than 700,000 individuals.


The Center for Advancing Innovation (CAI) is a global public-private partnership non-profit focused on creating a virtuous circle of innovation and driving growth breakthroughs through novel, creative paradigms and models. CAI's mission is to accelerate and increase the volume of technology transfer, translational research, commercialization and entrepreneurship in various fields of research, including biomedical research, to make more research available to the world for educational and innovation purposes, improve the economy and positively impact world health. For more information about CAI, please visit


NIH, the Nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit:


SOURCE Heritage Provider Network