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VOL. 8 | NO. 22 | Saturday, May 23, 2015

Cutting-Edge Creations

2015 ZeroTo510 Medical Device Accelerator now underway

By Andy Meek

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Over a selection of beverages and light hors d’oeuvres at a recent gathering, a group of entrepreneurs and startup teams held court at the Memphis Bioworks Foundation for a networking session, introduced themselves to the community and got a general welcome to Memphis.

The teams in this year’s ZeroTo510 cohort join a program that’s working to move the needle on health care innovation in Memphis. Shown are some of the teams’ leaders, including (left to right): Spencer Jones, SiteSaver; Kayla Rodriguez, SweetBio; Louis Diesel, SiteSaver; Isaac Rodriguez, SweetBio; Nancy Guerra, GlucosAlarm; Marsalas Whitaker, SweetBio; and Carlos Bernal, GlucosAlarm.

(Allan Daisley)

Meanwhile, they’ve already started on what happens next.

The fourth year of the ZeroTo510 Medical Device Accelerator is now underway, a 12-week program that cultivates and seeds medical device-focused startup teams with funding and help in developing potentially breakthrough companies focused on cutting-edge products.

Accelerators are meant to help give the next Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates a leg up that they might not otherwise have, and it can mean there are just as many flops as there are companies that spread their wings and go on to enjoy success.

The four teams participating in this year’s ZeroTo510 cohort, though, are joining a program with a healthy track record that each year has worked to move the needle in health care-related innovation in Memphis.

Since the program’s inception, ZeroTo510 has helped create or accelerated the creation of 16 new companies and more than 30 jobs and led to $7.5 million in investments. Three companies that have graduated from the accelerator are in the marketplace generating revenue today, while another has received FDA clearance and one is treating patients in an institutional review board study. The program has served as a benchmark model for a medical device accelerator in Australia, and in March the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project named ZeroTo510 as one of the top 15 accelerators in the U.S.

That ranking was announced at this year’s South by Southwest and the influential tech news site TechCrunch.

This year’s participants include teams focused on everything from a device that protects and preserves IV sites and central lines in hospitals to a membrane for tissue regeneration used in oral surgeries.

“National recognition and a track record of success have enabled us to continue to successfully recruit entrepreneurs,” said ZeroTo510 co-founder and Memphis Bioworks director of entrepreneurship and sustainability Allan Daisley, about the program serving as a nationwide draw.

He added that even though more business accelerators have launched across the country since ZeroTo510’s inception, it received applicants from six continents and every region of the U.S. this time around.

ZeroTo510 is operated by the Memphis Bioworks Foundation and is an initiative of the Greater Memphis Regional Accelerator, a program funded by Launch Tennessee and the state of Tennessee.

This year’s ZeroTo510 teams include Sweet Bio, which makes membranes for tissue regeneration used in oral surgeries using medical-grade honey as an ingredient; SiteSaver, which provides hospitals with a simple device to protect and preserve patient IV sites and central lines; GlucosAlarm, which created a technology to measure glucose in diabetic patients’ urine; and Inspire Living, which offers a portable health monitor to enable anyone to conduct an automated respiratory and rapid vitals exam on a child.

The four companies have received $50,000 in initial seed capital from co-investors Innova and MB Venture Partners.

At the end of the program, the teams will pitch to a group of investors Aug. 13 at Demo Day. The investors will choose finalists who could get as much as $100,000 in additional capital and the opportunity to further develop their businesses.

ZeroTo510 is important as an entity unto itself and for what it means for health care innovation locally. But it’s also part of EPIcenter, a communitywide strategic initiative focused on helping entrepreneurs launch businesses in the Memphis area.

That means ZeroTo510 participants, beyond the accelerator itself, get access to EPIcenter-led collaborations among entrepreneurial support organizations in Memphis, according to Bioworks, as well as expertise and support from the entirety of the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

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