Viapore team members at the TiE Atlanta Young Entrepreneurs University Competition
Atlanta Clinical & Translational Science Institute (ACTSI)-supported team, Viapore wins first place at the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS) World Congress in Boston. Viapore is a team stemming from Georgia Institute of Technology’s TI:GER program which assembles students into competitive teams of two MBA students, two law students, and a PhD student in order to address the issues that arise in technology commercialization, like patent drafting and law and maximizing commercial potential. Team Viapore members include: Emory Law student Brad Schewizer, Georgia Tech PhD candidate in mechanical engineering Brennan Torstick, Georgia Tech MBA students Anna Hewitt and Matthew Kroge, and Georgia Tech PhD candidate in Material Science and Engineering Nathan Evans.
From 2014-2015, ACTSI awarded Viapore a nearly $33,000 to support their project goals. Viapore developed an innovative surgical implant for spinal fusion surgeries to alleviate patient back pain originating from the lumbar spine. During this type of spinal fusion surgery, an implant is inserted between vertebrae to help new bone grow. Annually, over 400,000 people undergo spinal fusion surgery and 35% of those still have pain upon returning home. In addition, 10% of patients have pain so severe, that they undergo another surgery to revise the initial surgery. One cause of the pain is the material on the outside of the implant (called a PEEK cage) does not integrate well with the existing surrounding bone. Viapore invented a technology to make a porous PEEK surface that integrates better with surrounding bone and tissue, thus improving short- and long-term healing and reducing the risk of revision surgery.
Viapore previously competed in the Cardinal Challenge in Louisville, the TiE Atlanta Young Entrepreneurs University Competition, the New Venture Championship at the University of Oregon, and the Global Venture Labs Investment Competition in Austin, known as the “Super Bowl of Investment Competitions."
“One of the biggest benefits we received from [ACTSI] funding was the ability to travel to these competitions,” says Viapore team member Nathan Evans. “Each competition was several days long and we took at least three team members to each. The feedback we received at the competitions was extremely valuable in helping us refine our business model as well as our presentation/pitch skills.”
Viapore partnered with Vetera, a startup company, to test, commercialize, and market their invention. The first in-human trial will happen soon.
The ACTSI is a city-wide partnership between Emory, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Georgia Tech and is one of a national consortium striving to improve the way biomedical research is conducted across the country. The consortium, funded through the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences one of the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA), shares a common vision to translate laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients, engage communities in clinical research efforts, and train the next generation of clinical investigators.
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