Campus News

Proposal for liver transplant alternative wins UB entrepreneurship competition

Ogechi Ogoke delivered his presentation on patient-specific cell therapy that can be used as an alternative to a liver transplant.

Ogechi Ogoke, doctoral student in chemical and biomedical engineering, took first place in UB’s Henry A. Panasci Jr. Technology Entrepreneurship Competition. Photo: Nancy J. Parisi

By JACQUELINE MOLIK GHOSEN

Published April 15, 2019

Ogechi Ogoke celebrates his win with a fist in the air while holding his ceremonial check for $25,000.
“The competition has been simply amazing.”
Ogechi Ogoke
2019 Panasci winner

A doctoral student in chemical and biomedical engineering took first place on April 10 in UB’s Henry A. Panasci Jr. Technology Entrepreneurship Competition (Panasci TEC) for a patient-specific cell therapy that can be used as an alternative to a liver transplant.

Ogechi Ogoke, who is one of UB’s 2018-19 Western New York Prosperity Fellows, will receive $25,000 in startup capital and in-kind services valued at $27,000 for his company, Livandala.

The provisional patent process uses a patient’s own stem cells to repair and regenerate specific types of liver damage. In addition to eliminating the need for a liver donor, the therapy costs about $50,000—a fraction of the $800,000 a transplant would cost. It also takes far less time. In addition, the technology has the potential to provide faster recovery times for patients with chronic liver damage.

“The competition has been simply amazing,” says Ogoke. “Everyone involved in the process—the business mentors, judges, event organizers and volunteers—were invaluable. I am really looking forward to advancing our pre-clinical models of liver regeneration.”

In-kind awards for the winner include legal services from Colligan Law LLP, accounting services from Lumsden & McCormick LLP, human resource services from the People Plan from HR Foundations Inc., business development services from the UB Office of Business and Entrepreneur Partnerships, and Western New York Incubator Network, and office space from North Forest Office Space.

Photo of UB student Jon Goodrum in front of a large projection screen to present his business idea.

Jon Goodrum presented his venture, Tivvy, a location-based messaging app that facilitates real-life interactions between users. Photo: Nancy J. Parisi

The second-place winner, Jon Goodrum, a graduate student in computer science at UB, received $10,000 for his venture, Tivvy, a location-based messaging app that facilitates real-life interactions between users.

Panasci TEC provided coaching and mentoring to participants to prepare them for their pitches. John Seman, CEO of REVITALE Pharma was a Panasci mentor to Ogoke, and Scott Falbo, co-founder and chief technology officer of LenderLogix, was a mentor to Goodrum. Chris Miano, co-founder of Memory Fox, served as a venture coach to the teams.

Pared down from 33 first-round pitches, five teams of finalists delivered 10-minute presentations at UB’s Center for the Arts and were evaluated on how well they described the feasibility and marketability of their venture, proved the need for their product or service and presented potential sources of capital.

Other new venture ideas included on-demand refrigerated food storage compartments for health-conscious and commuter students; an immune cell isolation, analysis and storage company that provides basic cryopreservation services for healthy clients; and a device that measures fascial tension, assisting in the closure of surgical incisions and improving abdominal surgery outcomes.

Judges sitting at the front of the audience during the Panasci competition.

A panel of judges listens to a pitch. Photo: Nancy J. Parisi

Serving as judges for the final event were Jared Carmel, managing partner, Manhattan Venture Partners; Paul Ciriello, founder, Fairhaven Capital; Jenae Pitts, managing partner and director of operations, OneTen Capital; Joshua Aviv, founder and CEO, SparkCharge; Rob Anstey, CEO and founder of Graphenix Development Inc.; and Katie Krawczyk, CEO and partner, 19 IDEAS.

Now in its 19th year, Panasci TEC was created by the UB School of Management and the UB Office of Business and Entrepreneur Partnerships, and is funded with a $1 million endowment from the late Henry A. Panasci Jr. to facilitate and promote the commercialization of UB-generated technologies.

Hosted by the School of Management’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership and UB’s Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars, the event brings together UB students from science, technology, business and other disciplines to maximize their potential and create viable businesses in Western New York.