NC State Poole College HiTEC teams were finalists in new venture competitions in Charlotte, Raleigh

By Christine Ferrell

Chris Smith, a second year NC State Jenkins MBA student in the NC State University Poole College of Management, shares with his teammates a great passion for the potential of their startup cardioprotective drug discovery company, ephRemedies. “Based on early tests, our technology will improve the quality of life of a heart attack survivor—someone we may know or love,” he said.

Smith is part of a multidisciplinary team of NC State graduate students in the Jenkins MBA program’s entrepreneurship and technology commercialization concentration. The highly interactive sequence of courses, called the HiTEC program, brings together NC State graduate students from various disciplines to assess new technologies for their commercialization potential and to commercialize those that have potential.

The ephRemedies team is a few steps closer to realizing its goal of positively impacting human lives as with good showing in the Charlotte Venture Challenge, one of the largest startup competitions for investor attention in the Southeast (May 1), and the Lulu eGames (April 24), where they received the Judge’s Choice award. Both competitions provided the team with exposure and bragging rights — helping them to get closer to attracting investor funding.

The foundation of ephRemedies is a patented technology owned by East Carolina University and invented by Dr. Jitka Virag, associate professor of physiology at the Brody School of Medicine at ECU. The technology is comprised of ephrinA1, a protein that Virag discovered is expressed by heart muscle cells as a natural defense mechanism during a heart attack. Applied within four hours after a heart attack, the therapy significantly reduces the extent of damage to the heart muscle, decreasing a patient’s hospitalization time, recovery time, and probability of a second heart attack. The usage of this therapy will drastically reduce medical costs, while building a healthier road to recovery for over 600,000 annual heart attack survivors in the United States alone.

Steve Barr, Poole College professor of entrepreneurship and management, said the HiTEC program has offered more than 450 students the opportunity to participate in commercialization efforts, for which nearly $220 million has been raised since the program started 20 years ago as part of the college’s graduate management degree program.

Members of the ephRemedies team are:

  • Lu Liu, doctoral candidate in fiber and polymer science, 2015, NC State College of Textiles.
  • Res Orgut, doctoral candidate in construction engineering and management, 2016, NC State College of Engineering.
  • Chris Smith, Jenkins MBA candidate, 2014, NC State Poole College of Management.
  • Steve Schillaci, Jenkins MBA candidate, 2014, Poole College of Management.
  • Dr. Jitka Virag, assistant professor of physiology at the East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine.

Two additional NC State HiTEC teams were also finalists in the Lulu eGames competition on April 24.

Audiometrix provides a proprietary web-based teleaudiology solution that will revolutionize the way audiologists diagnose their patients’ ability to hear. Their product is comprised of two patent-pending technologies that allow audiologists to diagnose patients remotely. The Audiometrix team members are:

  • Will Bernholtz, Jenkins MBA candidate, 2015, NC State Poole College of Management.
  • Jim Di, doctoral candidate in biomedical engineering, 2015, NC State College of Engineering and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.
  • Siddharth Jain, master of biomanufacturing candidate, 2015, NC State Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center.
  • Ken Sollars, Jenkins MBA candidate, 2014, NC State Poole College of Management.

Thermaflow Solutions leverages the latest micro-fluidics technology developed by Glenn Walker, associate professor of biomedical engineering, a joint NC State-UNC program, to provide a novel approach to flow cytometry, a prolific analytical tool used to count and sort mammalian cells for medical and biological research. The Thermaflow team members are:

  • Grant Culbertson, Jr., doctoral candidate in forest biomaterials, NC State College of Natural Resources.
  • Tristan Junghun Kim, Jenkins MBA candidate, 2015, NC State Poole College of Management.
  • Judd Melvin, master’s candidate in microbial biotechnology, NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Mukta Nag, master’s candidate in microbial biotechnology, 2014, NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Joseph Thomas, MBA candidate, 2014, NC State Poole College of Management

Read about all six Poole College teams in the 2014 Lulu eGames.

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