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The five finalists for the 2014 Rochester Regional Business Plan Contest range in development from prototyping to expansion.
This year’s finalists are Advanced Quantum Imaging, IMSWorkX Inc., Ovitz Corp., RWP Energy Inc. and Turbett Surgical LLC. The companies emerged from a pool of 22 applicants.
The five firms represent varied fields including optics, imaging and medical devices, telecom software and renewable energy. They share a desire to become part of the fabric of Rochester’s business community.
“We do have a diversity of companies and startups here in the region, which is a good thing,” said James Senall, president of High Tech Rochester Inc. “It’s been another competitive year, and I think we have five strong finalists.”
Advanced Quantum Imaging
A discovery in a chemistry lab at the University of Rochester found its way to real-world application in the medical device market.
Advanced Quantum Imaging focuses on making certain medical devices fluorescent at infrared wavelengths to show doctors where the devices are in a patient’s body. The infrared wavelengths pass through the body and the visibility with special cameras ensures accuracy and patient satisfaction and reduces costs when medical devices such as feeding tubes are used, officials said.
The technology is used only on feeding tubes at this point, but expansion to other devices is anticipated.
The nano-technology-based material coats a stylet—a metal probe—at the end of a feeding tube, which attaches to the stomach or intestine, depending on the patient’s needs.
Todd Krauss, president of the advisory board for Advanced Quantum Imaging, likens the company’s solution for the problem of feeding tube errors to a drawstring stuck inside an elastic waistband.
“If you don’t tie the knot when you wash it, it gets stuck in the shorts and it’s really hard to get out; that’s what it’s like to put a feeding tube in normally,” he said. “Our goal is to see, is it going straight into the stomach? Or is it deviating left or right into the lungs?”
The company currently is aiming for use in neo-natal infants but will expand to all feeding tube patients.
“It’s exciting, seeing something go from a fundamental curiosity in the laboratory to having it be worth something,” Krauss said.
Brett Schwartz, chief technology officer, is the only employee and founder. The company is looking for a management team. It is applying for funding and will be partnering with Cornell University College of Veterinary Science to test the product on animals. They are working on getting the technology engineering right to build the prototype.
Company officials believe that with the new technology, the use of X-rays to find and track a device’s placement would be reduced or eliminated. With the infrared technology in feeding tubes, the location of the device can be seen without an X-ray—reducing cost and impact on patients.
Henrietta-based IMSWorkX has been here before.
The company is a two-time contest finalist and hopes to take advantage of its previous experience in this year’s competition.
“We’re certainly in a much different place than we were last year,” said Shannon Chevier, CEO and president. “We met our targets for last year, and we’re on track to meet all our targets for this year.”
The software company serves the telecommunications industry with six products intended to help customers with the challenges of next-generation networks. It focuses on the services layer of the telecom industry.
The company had a head start, since IMS-WorkX is a value-added reseller for technology acquired by Performance Technologies Inc. in 2009. Chevier and Keith Abbott, the company’s co-founder and vice president of global sales, left executive posts at PT to pursue IMSWorkX full-time.
The company uses its base technology to build fully developed products that provide services such as conferencing controls, call routing and telephone call control. It was launched in December 2012 and has eight employees. Last year’s contest afforded the company the time to hammer out a business plan it has stuck to a year later.
“We are definitely trying to transition out of the straight cash flow survival and into a more growth area,” Chevier said. “Last year we were only 3 months old when the whole thing started, and we’re continuing to leverage the head start. It puts us in a really good position.”
Ovitz Corp.’s product can measure an eye in seconds. The company itself is on a fast track as well.
Winning a slew of local contests, the company is starting to be noticed in the Rochester area.
In 2013 it received the Excell Challenge Award of $10,000 from Excell Partners Inc. for High Tech Rochester’s Pre-Seed Workshop. Ovitz also took first place at the 2013 Charles and Janet Forbes Entrepreneurial Competition and third place in the 2013 Mark Ain Business Model Competition. UR played host to both competitions.
The company focuses on commercializing technology developed at UR’s Flaum Eye Institute. Its product, the EyeProfiler, is a portable vision diagnosing instrument that uses wavefront sensor technology to measure the eye in seconds. The technology allows better accuracy and precision to be applied to the current process of prescriptions, company officials said.
“We have been working very hard, persisting in advancing our product and business plan step by step,” Ovitz CEO Felix Kim said. “We feel fortunate to have kept our original team and added some very valuable new members. It feels great to have our hard work recognized again.”
The company is writing grants and working on a prototype to release for beta testing. Six Rochester optometrists have agreed to test the product once it is ready.
The finalists in the contest are a testament to Rochester’s depth, Kim said.
“We appreciate the opportunity to share the story of Ovitz’s journey and develop a bond of fellowship, recognition and encouragement within the Rochester community,” he said.
RWP Energy Inc.
RWP Energy Inc. wants to make an impact on the world of renewable energy.
The company’s products are turbines for the global small wind market.
“Our wind turbine has demonstrated twice the efficiency of any other turbine on the market,” said David Curry, vice president of engineering.
The company has six employees, including two in Rochester.
The contest provides a way for the company to measure its progress, officials said.
“It is an honor to be selected (as) one of the finalist companies,” Curry said. “We appreciate the review board members’ recognition of the capability and integrity of our company. We have made significant, measurable strides for an early stage company.”
The company plans to begin shipping turbines globally this year.
“We are driven to be a game changer in renewable energy,” Curry said.
Turbett Surgical LLC
Robert Turbett knew there had to be a better way.
With more than 25 years of introducing medical technology in various sales positions, he noted the potential to improve efficiency in a practice of the operating room: handling surgical instrument trays.
“The way they were processing the instruments 25 years ago is the same as the way they’re doing it today,” said Turbett, president of Turbett Surgical LLC. “Surgery has become a lot more technical, so we’re introducing this to bring instrumentation processing up to date.”
Instead of the current custom of wrapping instrument trays individually, Turbett and his team have developed a container designed to hold all the instrumentation for one surgery. The device has the potential to save time and money for hospitals.
Each time the cabinet is used, the instrumentation is placed inside with one biodegradable filter set placed over the instruments inside. The company’s large cabinet handles up to 16 trays. The plan is to expand to different size cabinets in the future. Hospitals can buy the cabinet once and replace the filter for each surgery.
With the national average of operating rooms costing roughly $100 per minute to run, Turbett said, every part of the surgical process counts, including setting up the room for surgery. Turnover time can take up to 15 minutes per surgery, which adds up each week.
Potentially, with the amount of time saved by using Turbett’s container, another surgery could be added to the schedule per operating room, improving efficiency and fiscal resources for each hospital.
“We really think that we can make the hospitals much more efficient on their bottom line,” Turbett said. “(It also is) giving surgeons in the hospitals the opportunity to do more surgeries, which is good for their business.”
The company has two employees.
Winners of the contest receive more than $50,000 in cash and prizes, which are to be awarded May 2 at the sixth annual Celebration of Entrepreneurship Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Rochester. The event takes place from noon to 1:30 p.m. This year a national expert will speak at the event for the first time. (See story on page 13.)
The companies are to present their business plans to a panel of judges, and each will receive a combination of cash or services. The first-place winner receives $25,000 in cash. Last year’s winner was Graphene Devices Ltd., a company in the fields of printed electronics and energy storage.
Additional information on the event is available at www.htr.org.
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