Photonics-enabled gene therapy wins SPIE Startup Challenge at Photonics West

Cellino won for technology that enables gene therapies using lasers and nanofabricated substrates.

Cellino, a Harvard University spinoff, won the SPIE Startup Challenge for technology that enables gene therapies using lasers and nanofabricated substrates. The contest provides $85,000 in cash prizes and other awards, and is supported by Founding Partner Jenoptik and Supporting Sponsors Edmund Optics, Trumpf, Open Photonics, and the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF).

“The breadth and business potential of the finalists was really impressive” said Jay Kumler, President of Jenoptik Optical Systems, after the final round of pitches on the afternoon of February 2. “All of the finalists should be congratulated on the exciting companies that they have launched.”

Marinna Madrid, Chief Scientific Officer, made the pitch for the Harvard team. They have developed laser-activated nanodevices to efficiently and effectively deliver cargo such as medication to cells to cure viral or genetic diseases that affect the blood.

Zeev Zalevsky, Bar Ilan University and IC Touch CTO and founder, pitched his company’s device that allows blind or visually impaired people to “see” by translation of visual information captured by a camera to spatial tactile stimulation of the cornea. Adam Wax, President and Chief Scientist, pitched Lumedica’s OQ EyeScope, accessible and affordable medical imaging technology.

Other finalists in the completion were:
• TriLite Technologies RGB Laser Light Module for AR/VR, ultracompact MEMS laser scanner for AR and VR applications; Jörg Reitterer, Vice President of Engineering
• Fresh Strips, ensuring quality for food; Koen Nickmans, CTO
• Fastree3D, 3D vision with a LIDAR system on chip; Claude Florin, CEO.

Jenoptik is sponsored cash prizes including $10,000 for first place, $5,000 for second place, and $2,500 for third place. The first-place winner also received $5,000 worth of products from Edmund Optics.

During semi-final competition earlier in the week, Rick Schwerdtfeger, Director of the NSF SBIR/STTR Photonics Division, presented travel awards to Luis Moutinho of the Universidade de Aveiro and NU-RISE, and Madrid and colleague Nabiha Saklayen of Harvard and Cellino. Moutinho made a pitch in the semi-finals for NU-RISE’s technology for controlling radiological doses for breast and prostate cancer treatment.

Finals judges were:
• Jason Eichenholz, Open Photonics
• Marc Himel, Jenoptik Optical Systems
• Andreas Popp, Trumpf
• Jenny Rooke, 5 Prime Ventures
• Samuel Sadoulet, Edmund Optics
• Homan Yuen, NewGen Capital.

Source: SPIE

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