On Friday, at the Arizona Commerce Authority’s offices, the Furnace Accelerator unveiled its first batch of ten startups. With the level of startup activities and tech company launch events in recent months, I am starting to wonder if we are finally on the verge of a mini silicon valley taking off in the Phoenix area. The Furnace accelerator encourages entrepreneurs from across the country to find and commercialize innovations developed within the state’s universities and research institutions. Furnace’s winners represent a wide array of technologies and innovative solutions — from biomarkers for disease diagnosis to new methods for massive data storage to repurposing discarded tires for new concrete and construction materials.
Friday’s event itself was a bit underwhelming and in my opinion poorly organized in an awkwardly laid out space. It was more of a networking event than a showcase of the ten startups that were being unveiled. In fact, most of the 90-minute event was dedicated to social networking, while another 30 minutes or so were various organizers talking about the program and thanking each other for their awesome organizational prowess. The subject of the meeting, the ten startups, were featured for about 10 seconds each in a 3 minute video. In fact, I only counted 7 of the 10 companies in the video, so I suspect 3 of them didn’t even get a mention. Literally, out of a 90 minute event, approximately 70 seconds was dedicated to the subject at hand: unveiling the startups. I hope that never happens again guys. Stay focused on the subject! How cool would it have been to dedicate 30 minutes of the program to each of the 10 companies asking them to describe what they aim to do and how others can help in 3 minutes or less?
Anyway that puts me in an awkward position because I wanted to write about each of the companies and I know virtually nothing about any of them. Since most of these companies don’t have web sites (really? are we in 2012?), I also can’t get any information from their non-existent web sites either. So that forces me to have to relay a press release, something I would normally hate to do. However I feel like the 10 companies deserve a little better than the Friday event. So here goes nothings:
Attometrics will use a novel technology capable of rapidly detecting protein, metabolite and DNA analytes with unprecedented sensitivity. Attometrics will sell an automated, multiplexed detection system that can handle high sample throughput to detect and identify groups of biomarkers for cancer and infectious diseases.
CYMEDX will develop assays for the early detection of mitochondrial diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Earlier detection enables earlier therapy, and development of personalized medicine solutions. Our vision is to help millions of people avoid the physical, emotional and financial burdens of these
DataWare Ventures will be a software development firm catering to the Large Data Analytics and Database Management System (DBMS) Optimization segment of the industry.
Fast PCR Diagnostics will develop PCR (polymerase chain reaction) technology to amplify and quantify the presence of a specific DNA/RNA sequence. PCR is omnipresent in all biological/medical applications. PCR is also the gold standard for identifying bacterial/viral infections. Fast PCR Diagnostics will commercialize a system for super-fast, portable, and accurate diagnosis of blood infection, which can be best utilized in medical diagnostics especially within the emergency room (ER) setting.
IMANIN will make ultrasound-based preventative diagnostic tools for cardiovascular disease more efficient and available for widespread clinical adoption. There is a clinical need for an efficient software solution for carotid intima–media thickness (CIMT) interpretation. To meet the clinical need, IMANIN has developed an innovative prototype, which is highly efficient and user friendly for CIMT image interpretation.
PiVoT will commercialize an improved concrete mixture where specific quantities of crumb rubber are added to the concrete mix, resulting in improved thermal cycling resistance without the expense of additional cement. The concrete is lighter and displays increased traction, reduced contact noise, and superior crack resistance. This technology provides an attractive end use for the millions of rubber tires discarded each year.
Rarus Innovations will be an EdTech company focused on delivering e-learning through Mobile Apps and Internet using gamification principles and social media. Through the partnership with GreenCave, Rarus seeks to at first create innovative and fun Android and iOS based apps.
RehabDev will provide safe, wearable, low-cost stroke rehabilitation products for use at home or in the clinic. The technologies promote repetition and task-oriented use toward effective and efficient stroke recovery. The wearable wireless products offer an unobtrusive and discreet solution that can be taken and used virtually anywhere.
SiO2 Nanotech will develop VitreOx™ for applications in vitro-retinal surgery, and other procedures and surgery involved with endoscopes and laparoscopes. VitreOx™ inhibits fogging on intra-ocular lenses and endoscopes/laparoscopes lenses by changing the condensation on the surface. The invention not only saves the vision of a patient undergoing vitro-retinal secondary cataract surgery, it also reduces operation time by 40% in endoscopic and laparoscopic procedures.
Traken Technologies will be a Veteran owned start-up, developing an access control system with a secure mobile-cloud data acquisition system to help local, national and multi-national convenience stores reduce loss due to theft, while protecting critical data belonging to the retailers and their customers.
These 10 startups will each receive $25,000 in seed funding from the Arizona Commerce Authority and BioAccel, as well as incubation space throughout the state of Arizona. Arizona’s three universities traditionally spinout about 20 companies each year; AZ Furnace has ensured an additional 10.