The annual MedCity INVEST conference this week offered a platform for healthcare startups investors to come together, network, and exchange ideas. The Pitch Perfect contest was the centerpiece of the event, highlighting how different companies are imagining healthcare innovation. The competition saw 23 healthcare startups across biopharma, medical devices, and health tech geared for consumers/employers as well as payers/providers pitch their business plans to teams of investor judges. Here are the winners.
Health Tech Consumers/Employers
Winner: Partum Health
What it does: Partum Health gives families a blueprint for care on its app, outlining the level and type of support that’s right for them. This may include mental health support, physical therapy, lactation and infant feeding support, nutrition, acupuncture or working with a birth doula or postpartum doula. It also plans to launch digital courses and develop B2B2C clinical programs as well.
What the judges said: “There was a consensus that Partum is coordination of different specialist care that’s really, really needed during pregnancy and post pregnancy,” said Shawn Ellis, managing partner, Distributed Ventures. “[I] loved the coordination of care, loved the very consumer-centric approach, patient-centric approach. [I] felt that it was a great solution addressing an unmet market need.”
Health Tech Payer/Provider
Winner: OmniLife Health
What it does: Clinical workflow automation is the company’s focus. FlowHawk is a communication-centric provider-to-provider clinical workflow automation platform focused on complex care with initial focus on organ transplant, organ failure care, and complex cancers.
What the judges said: “I was impressed with OmniLife’s outcomes within the transplant market which seemed to have a strong impact on both cost and care, and look forward to seeing what other areas they launch into,” noted Kelsey Maguire, managing director, Sandbox Industries
Cigna Ventures Principal Raffi Boyajian added: “What caught my attention was the ability to meaningfully participate in various conditions via transplants, potential to carve out a clear role in value based care agreements, and the limited competitors in the space.”
Winner: Prana Thoracic
What it does: The medtech business is dedicated to developing solutions for early intervention in lung cancer. It seeks to revolutionize the early diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer by making it easier and less invasive to deal with the rapidly growing number of early suspicious lung nodules.
What the judges said: “Amongst a super strong slate of medtech startups, Joanna’s [Nathan, the CEO] presentation superbly conveyed the significant disease burden and the corresponding clinical opportunity of addressing early lung cancer diagnosis and treatment,” Dr. Oliver Keown of Intuitive Ventures observed. “Furthermore, beyond the market opportunity, she highlighted a sophisticated plan to de-risk the regulatory, reimbursement and technical milestones that lay ahead for Prana Thoracic.”
“For a patient with a new cancer diagnosis, getting the result of a lung biopsy — beyond the risk of a complication during the procedure — can be quite an emotional experience,” Julien Pham, Third Culture Capital founder and managing partner added. “It is therefore imperative that the tissue obtained is adequate for an accurate diagnosis. Unfortunately, the current ‘less invasive’ biopsy techniques don’t always give reliable results, and delaying diagnosis, and repeating the procedure can be frustrating to patients, family, and providers. We believe that Prana Thoracic’s innovative design can enhance the experience of care and potentially improve outcomes.”
Biopharma (Sponsored by TriNet Pharma)
Winner: Syntax Bio
What it does: The cell therapy company manufactures renewable sources of the cell types most critical for human health. Its modified CRISPR system automatically guides stem cells down lineages of choice through stepwise genetic instruction sets to mimic embryonic developmental processes. Syntax used its seed funding to engineer two new generations of the system and have demonstrated rapid discovery of iPSC differentiation to pancreatic beta cells, hematopoietic stem cells, and a few musculoskeletal progenitor cell types.
What the judges said: “Syntax Bio represents a paradigm shifting moonshot method that, if it works, could revolutionize the way we manufacture stem cells for therapies across many indications,” said Kelly Kaihara, director, life science tools and diagnostics, General Inception. “It is exactly the type of idea and company that we are looking for. One that makes a major technical leap forward but also provides a platform to address multiple human diseases.”
Dimitra Georganopoulou, general partner with Qral Ventures, added: “Syntax Bio has the potential to capitalize the long coming promise of stem cell therapies that could be entering a new age of commercialization era next. Syntax Bio has a new method that can help overcome some of the limitations of IPSCs to date.”
Photo: Getty Images, Oat_Phawat