Published November 6, 2020
Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences students and alumnae are among the members of the top two teams in this year’s University at Buffalo’s Henry A. Panasci Jr. Technology Entrepreneurship Competition (Panasci TEC).
A company that provides immune cell isolation, analysis and storage and offers basic cryopreservation services for healthy clients took first place at the Sept. 18 event.
James J.M. Cooper, a student in the Jacobs School’s MD-PhD Program; Joe DiNardo; Daniel Fisher, PhD ’11; Dan Rera, MBA, ’11; Adam Utley, PhD ’19; and Tom White, MD; will receive $25,000 in startup capital and in-kind services valued at $27,000 for their company, Immunaeon.
The Buffalo-based biotech venture stores a person’s immune system for future use against potentially life-threatening illnesses.
The process, which combines cryopreservation (preservation of cells by cooling) and immunotherapy (the reintroduction of those cells to the body), will help treat diseases, infections and cancers in future cases.
“This win is going to take us far,” says Utley, the company’s founder and CEO. “Panasci unlocks so many doors — not only the prize itself, but also the resources throughout UB.”
In-kind awards for the winner include:
The second-place team will collect $10,000 for their company, Limitless Medical Technologies, which produces a leak-sensing film that works with an app to monitor patients who have had intestinal repairs.
The team includes: Andrea Kraft, an MPH/MBA student; Blake Kruger, a medical student; Jacob Opalinski, bioengineering student; Arnav Matta, innovation management student; Prerna Pant, a 2019 graduate of the master’s program in biomedical engineering; and Nicolette Winder, MD, a 2020 graduate of the Jacobs School’s medical education program.
This year, for the first time, spectators voted on a People’s Choice award, which went to Limitless Medical Technologies, bringing the team an additional $1,000.
Panasci TEC provided coaching and mentoring to participants to prepare them for their pitches. Jack McGowan, project manager, Insyte Consulting, was a Panasci mentor to Immunaeon, and John Seman, CEO, REVITALE Pharma, mentored Limitless Medical Technologies.
Pared down from 32 first-round pitches, five teams of finalists delivered 5-minute virtual presentations via Zoom to a panel of judges and other viewers 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 an interactive virtual reality software platform that simulates stressful environments to better prepare health care providers; an app that uses algorithms to recommend meal options based on health goals, taste preferences, budget and ingredient optimization; and a next generation wind turbine designed to revolutionize the small wind industry.
Now in its 20th year, Panasci TEC was created by the UB School of Management and BEP, and it 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 UB School of Management’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership and UB’s Blackstone LaunchPad & 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.