U-M’s Tyson Kim wins Bio Innovation Cup
A smartphone device that screens for diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of preventable blindness among Americans, was chosen by a panel of investors as the winning project at Fast Forward Medical Innovation’s 2017 Biomedical Innovation Cup on May 17. The annual pitch was held in conjunction with the premier venture event, the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium.
The RetinaScope, a compact, handheld device that produces wide-angle retinal images similar to those obtained with tabletop retinal cameras, took the top prize at the standing-room only event, beating out other top-notch innovation projects from a group of life science clinicians and researchers of the University of Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) for Life Sciences Program.
Developed by University of Michigan researcher and Kellogg Eye Center resident Tyson Kim, M.D., Ph.D., RetinaScope is a portable and less expensive alternative to traditional tabletop retinal cameras, providing high-quality imaging and lowering overhead costs enabling more frequent eye screening within primary care clinics.
“The Biomedical Innovation Cup was a great opportunity to polish our ‘pitch,’” Kim said. “We gained valuable feedback from experienced biomedical investors, and our team and business strategy are stronger and closer to commercialization because of our work preparing for this event.”
Early-stage investor “sharks” at this year’s event included representatives from Rivervest Ventures and BioMotiv, both out of Ohio, in addition to Bloom Burton & Co. from Toronto, and Three Leaf Ventures of Denver and Ann Arbor.
MTRAC for Life Sciences Innovation Hub, co-managed by FFMI and the U-M Office of Tech Transfer and supported by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, is a statewide program that supports translational research projects in life sciences.
“There’s an obvious level of unprecedented momentum and energy around the biomedical and healthcare innovation community in Michigan,” said Paul Riser, managing director of TechTown Detroit, and the event’s host (pictured with Kim). “The FFMI Biomedical Innovation Cup event is a feather in Michigan’s hat relative to the promise of what’s possible with great support of innovative ideas, with strong collaboration between public and private sectors, and to what lies ahead for our region and state.”