Stroke technology wins 2019 Biomedical Innovation Cup

May 24, 2019  //  FOUND IN: News

The Vortex Catheter Technology, a new platform for minimally-invasive treatment of stroke patients, was chosen by a panel of investors as the winning project at the 2019 Biomedical Innovation Cup, an event hosted by Fast Forward Medical Innovation (FFMI).

The annual pitch was held in conjunction with the premier venture event, the Midwest Growth Capital Symposium.

The technology, which uses telescoping endovascular catheters that are navigated within the brain and activated to generate a whirlpool to completely remove obstructing clots with one pass while avoiding the release of small fragments, took the top prize at the standing-room only event on May 15. It beat out other top-notch innovation projects from a group of life science clinicians and researchers of the Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) for Life Sciences Program.

Developed by a U-M team, including neurosurgery resident and researcher Luis Savastano, M.D., Ph.D., Aditya S. Pandey, M.D., Albert Shih, Ph.D., and Yihao Zheng, Ph.D., this device has the potential to enable integrated, enhanced navigation into the target cerebral artery. This leads to complete recanalization regardless of the size, location or firmness of the clots, and without clogging or releasing of clot fragments.

“The Biomedical Innovation Cup has been such a great opportunity to help perfect our pitch,” Savastano said. “We were able to gain valuable feedback and our team and business strategy are stronger because of all of the work preparing for this event.”

Early-stage investor “sharks” at this year’s event included representatives from BioVentures Investors, Invest Michigan, Arboretum Ventures and Agent Capital.

MTRAC for Life Sciences Innovation Hub, co-managed by FFMI and the U-M Office of Tech Transfer, is a statewide program that supports translational research projects in life sciences —including medical devices, diagnostics, therapeutics and health-related information technology — with high commercial potential. The $4 million statewide program is supported by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

“There’s a level of momentum and energy around the biomedical and health care innovation community in Michigan,” said Kelly B. Sexton, Ph.D., associate vice president for research – technology transfer and innovation partnerships at U-M, and the event’s emcee. “The Biomedical Innovation Cup event shows what’s possible with great support of innovative ideas, strong collaboration between public and private sectors, and what lies ahead for our region and state.”

FFMI, a unit of the Office of Research at the U-M Medical School, offers resources and support to world-class biomedical researchers at the university and across the state. It provides groundbreaking funding programs, dynamic educational offerings and deep industry connections that help biomedical researchers navigate the road to successful innovation and commercialization, with the ultimate goal of positively impacting human health.

For more information about FFMI, visit



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