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2014 SPIE Startup Challenge Results

Winners Announced!

SPIE hosted and JENOPTIK was the Founding Sponsor for the 4th Annual Startup Challenge for photonics technology at Photonics West 2014.

We received great news coverage from Optics.org, Photonics.com and our own press release detailed the event. The complete list of the 8 Finalists is available as is the event program which recognizes all the volunteers involved with the competition. SPIE thanks the 25 Semi-Finalists that pitched their devices in the first stage of the competition.

1st place

Microscope-in-a-needle: World's smallest surgical guidance probe 
Robert McLaughlin
University of Western Australia 
$10,000 prize + $5,000 in equipment from Edmund Optics

Robert McLaughlin - Univ. of Western Australia

We have developed a miniaturized optical coherence tomography probe, small enough to be encased in a needle - a 'microscope-in-a-needle'. With its high resolution imaging, it can allow the surgeon to find the edge of the cancer in real-time during surgery, allowing them to get the surgery right first time.

Problem: There will be 100,000 'lumpectomy' breast cancer surgeries in the USA next year, where the surgeon removes the tumor but leaves the rest of the breast intact. 1 in 4 of these surgeries will fail, and the surgeon will leave some cancer in the patient. 25,000 patients will need to have additional surgery per year.

2nd place

PlenOptika. Eyecare for all. 
Nicholas Durr
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
$5,000 Prize

Nick Durr Pitch VideoPlenOptika is addressing the global shortage of optometrists with the QuickSee: an innovative, low-cost device that provides eyeglass prescriptions at the push of a button.

Problem: Over a billion people worldwide do not have the eyeglasses they need. Prescription eyeglasses can be purchased for just $3 and are affordable for many of these people. One of the main barriers is that there is an acute shortage of eyecare personnel to prescribe eyeglasses. The QuickSee is a $500 device that increases the throughput of existing optometrists and enables non-optometrists to prescribe eyeglasses, increasing the accessibility of eye care.

3rd place

MagBiosense's revolutionary heart-attack diagnostic device
Amos Danielli 
MagBiosense
$2,500 Prize

Amos Danielli Pitch Video

MagBiosense develops a diagnostic device & assay for heart attack, offering laboratory-quality sensitivity and the rapid results and ease of use of a point-of-care system

Problem: When a patient suffers a heart attack, increasing amounts of cardiac protein cardiac Troponin I (cTnI) are slowly released to the patient's blood and for precise diagnosis, it is often necessary to conduct consecutive blood tests to measure changes in cTnI levels over time. Current assays have low sensitivity, which limits their ability to rapidly detect elevated cTnI levels. Consequently, serial blood tests, used to track changes in cTnI levels over time, are taken at long testing intervals, every 3-6 hours to allow the concentration of cTnI to increase to measurable levels. This can prolong diagnosis up to 6-9 hours after the onset of symptoms which delays treatment and increases waiting times for all patients in the ED.

See more photos in the event photo gallery courtesy of Matt Peach at Optics.org.

Startup Challenge Stage
All 8 finalist presenters in the 2014 Startup Challenge. (L-R) Zeev Zalevsky, Eric Wandel, Nicholas Durr, Peter M. W. Skovgaard, Christian Weedbrook, Amos Danielli, Matthew Muller, and Robert McLaughlin (Photo credit: Joey Cobbs for SPIE; used with permission)

 

Zeev Zalevsky presents
Zeev Zalevsky from Z-squared and Bar Ilan University leads off the pitch round with the prize checks in the background (Photo credit: Joey Cobbs for SPIE; used with permission)

 

Nick Durr (MIT) presents on PlenOptika
Nicholas Durr (MIT) presents his 3 minute pitch for PlenOptika (Photo credit: Joey Cobbs for SPIE; used with permission)

 

Crowd shot
A standing-room only crowd gathers to hear the pitches (Photo credit: Joey Cobbs for SPIE; used with permission)

 

Finals Judging team
Our excellent team of judges for the finals. (L-R) Sam Sadoulet (Edmund Optics), Adam Wax (Duke University), Jason Eichenholz (Open Photonics), Bruce Itchkawitz (Knobbe Martens) and Jay Kumler (Jenoptik) (Photo credit: Joey Cobbs for SPIE; used with permission)

 

Sam Sadoulet (Edmund Optics) asks a question
Sam Sadoulet (Edmund Optics) questions a pitch presenter during the competition (Photo credit: Joey Cobbs for SPIE; used with permission)

 

Mark Gallagher (Knobbe Martens) answers a question
Mark Gallagher (Knobbe Martens) provides advice on the most common misconceptions about intellectual property management that scientists hold (Photo credit: Joey Cobbs for SPIE; used with permission)

 

Robert McLaughlin presents
Robert McLaughlin presents on the microscope-in-a-needle - an OCT system for breast cancer tumor detection that can help doctors remove all the cancercous cells during surgery (Photo credit: Joey Cobbs for SPIE; used with permission)

 

Amos Danielli takes 3rd
Amos Danielli (center) takes 3rd place in the competition with MagBiosense - a platform for detecting proteins related to cardiac arrest. The check is presented by Jay Kumler of JENOPTIK (left) and 2014 SPIE President Phil Stahl (right) (Photo credit: Joey Cobbs for SPIE; used with permission)

 

Nicholas Durr (center) takes 2nd place with QuickSee: a device that provides eye glass perscriptions at the push of a button. The check is presented by Jay Kumler of JENOPTIK (left) and 2014 SPIE President Phil Stahl (right) (Photo credit: Joey Cobbs for SPIE; used with permission)

 

Robert McLaughlin receives check from Jay Kumler and Phil Stahl
Robert McLaughlin takes home the 1st place check presented by Jay Kumler of JENOPTIK (left) and 2014 SPIE President Phil Stahl (right) (Photo credit: Joey Cobbs for SPIE; used with permission)

 

The team from Western Australia pose with their 1st prize bonus check providing $5000 of Edmund Optics equipment (Photo credit: Joey Cobbs for SPIE; used with permission)

 

Peter Skovgaard of Norlase
Peter Skovgaard of Norlase (center) shows off his uncooled high-power blue diode laser to Bruce Itchkawitz of Knobbe Martens after the competition (Photo credit: Joey Cobbs for SPIE; used with permission)

 

Jason Eichenholz and Nick Durr
Jason Eichenholz (OpenPhotonics) congratulates Nick Durr on a great pitch for QuickSee (Photo credit: Joey Cobbs for SPIE; used with permission)

 

Robert McLaughlin swaps cards
Robert McLaughlin swaps business cards with new contacts after the pitch competition(Photo credit: Joey Cobbs for SPIE; used with permission)

 

Robert McLaughlin shows off the microscope-in-a-needle
The microscope-in-a-needle - helps a surgeon perform real-time biopsies for cancer cells during surgery (Photo credit: Joey Cobbs for SPIE; used with permission)

Founding Partner

JENOPTIK


Supporting Sponsors

Edmund Optics


TRUMPF


Open Photonics


National Science Foundation