From my perch in Silicon Valley, it seems that there’s a new startup incubator launching every day. Or at least it does this month, when many of them are wrapping up their latest class of startups with a demo day, or afternoon, or evening.
Last night Stanford’s StartX, along with showing off its latest “graduates”, announced that it was doing a little launch of its own, starting StartX Med incubator dedicated to medical, biotechnology, and health care innovations. StartX Med has already selected a dozen nascent companies from 37 applications for its first six-month session.
Clearly a timely move; medical technologies coming out of the original StartX program have been among the most impressive, and giving them their own space means, I hope, a lot more cool ideas get explored. Besides making more incubation room, a dedicated organization is necessary, says StartX Med’s founder Divya Nag, because medical companies have special needs for advisors (for example, folks who can help then understand the way the FDA works) collaborators (medical school professors, say, and practicing doctors), and other resources.
Victor Gane, founder of Dermlink and a member of this first StartX Med class, says that specialized accelerators like StartX Med can offer mentors who understand the field and, he expects, these folks will help him make the right connections with companies in the industry and with investors who are particularly involved in the field. “It’s not just bringing capital, it’s bringing smart capital that is important,” he says.
The first class of StartX Med companies includes Gane’s Dermlink, which is developing tools for remote diagnosis of skin conditions using high quality photography and a secure web-based application. There’s also BioTX, founded by two electrical engineers, Daniel Pivonka and Anatoly Yakovlev, who envision tiny wireless devices, powered wirelessly, propelling themselves under remote control through human bodies, starting with precision guided catheters to treat cardiac arrythmia. Another StartX Med company, Protein Solutions, is working on an automated way to measure the efficacy of drug treatments for cancer, while Sonitrack Systems is developing ultrasound image guidance for radiation therapy, and Veebot is working on a robotic system to automate needle insertion for blood tests and IVs.
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Tekla S. Perry is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., she's been covering the people, companies, and technology that make Silicon Valley a special place for more than 40 years. An IEEE member, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University.