UNMC, UNO institute signs on first four start-up companies

by Vicky Cerino
September 08, 2017

Image with file name: Rodney_Markin_Pathology.jpg

UNeTech, a new institute at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and University of Nebraska at Omaha designed to identify promising start-up companies and help them become successful, has identified its first four start-up companies.

The companies, which will be housed in the UNeTech building at 3929 Harney St., are:

FutureAssure - Built around the research of Jason Johanning, M.D., a UNMC vascular surgeon, the company uses new devices and software to assess patient frailty. Research has shown frailty is an effective way to assess likely outcomes of surgery. FutureAssure combines the best available methods to assess frailty with a new medical instrument. The company’s approach captures and assesses the information automatically which saves time and money.

Avert - Developed by Preston Badeer, a community entrepreneur, the company has developed a program that can determine if someone has sustained a concussion or has recovered from a concussion by analyzing the individual’s balance. The company originated in the Biomechanics Research Building at UNO. Avert is looking for strategic partners to deploy its proprietary software.

Esculon - Developed by community entrepreneur Evan Luxon, the company is designing a chest tube that doesn’t clog. Chest tubes are used to help drain air, blood or fluid from the space surrounding the lungs following surgery. After placement by the surgeon, the biggest complication of chest tubes is blockage. Esculon is making a self-irrigating chest tube that is less likely to clog.

Virtual Cardiovascular Solutions - A product of collaboration between Ed O’Leary, M.D., UNMC cardiologist and Hani Haider, Ph.D., an orthopedic researcher. They provide cutting edge educational tools to improve a wide range of medical knowledge and skills such as AngioTeacher, the first interactive medical educational software application designed to help students learn to interpret coronary angiograms through a three-dimensional computed tomographic angiographic model of the heart.

Rod Markin, M.D., Ph.D., executive director of UNeTech, said the company will raise between $7 and $10 million to help promising technology and start-up companies during their first few years, also known as the "Valley of Death," when half of new businesses fail.

Joe Runge, J.D., associate director of UNeTech, said UNeTech is not a venture capital fund, but a cluster of expertise focused on the health care field.

"We’re creating products people really need to improve access to health care and contribute to the financial benefit for the university as well," Runge said. "UNeTech benefits UNMC by exposing our faculty to a whole different type of research that helps start-ups answer questions and problems.

"UNeTech serves as an incubator that can curate a very particular set of clinicians and researchers to help address problems faced by start-ups. We combine lessons -- as well as what is unique to Omaha and especially to Nebraska -- which will make us successful."

Some of UNeTech’s broad mandate is leveraging relationships to find opportunities of value to advance technology from a start-up. "We look at it as an investment and what we expect the return to be - using the same analysis an investment company would use," Runge said.

Over time, the building could accommodate as many as 10-12 start-up companies.

We are Nebraska Medicine and UNMC. Our mission is to lead the world in transforming lives to create a healthy future for all individuals and communities through premier educational programs, innovative research and extraordinary patient care.

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