Neuro Startup Challenge


With the state-of-the art motion correction technology provided by the National Institute of Health (NIH), and the extensive guidance and mentorship provided by the Center for Advancing Innovation, the NeuroCognetix team has accomplished more in the past nine months than would have ever thought possible Participating in the Neuro-Startup Challenge these past few months has broadened the horizons of each team member of NeuroCognetix, and inspired new goals and desires for commercializing new technologies through successful startup businesses.


The Challenge provided an interesting learning experience and a compelling opportunity to interact with accomplished business leaders. We had to convince highly trained professionals that the underlying technology and the proposed product was a game-changer with significant business-impact, worthy of their consideration. As students, we are used to learning new things, and were eager from the beginning to tackle a new challenge to improve healthcare. At the heart of the team is a strong desire to improve the way the world uses technology for improved patient care, lower overall costs, and equal access to quality care. The NIH Neuro-Startup Challenge has given us the opportunity to do so.



EncepHeal Therapeutics, Inc.


The Neuro Startup Challenge originally offered us an avenue to learn of Biotechnology and Small Businesses through a hands on experience. We were able to apply our different backgrounds to start a business. However, by the end, the challenge offered us something so much more. With their mentoring and relationships, the Neuro Startup Challenge gives EncepHeal Therapeutics the opportunity to help over 22 million people affected by substance abuse, many of which, do not have options when it comes to FDA treatments. Rosemarie Truman and the rest of the Neuro Startup team have given us access to tap into new innovative treatments for substance abuse. We hope to add to their good name by changing the face of addiction for years to come.


-Aaron Lazarus, CEO, EncepHeal Therapeutics

Breast Cancer Startup Challenge


This experience has been life changing for all of us on the management team and extremely educational towards understanding what it takes to transform an idea into a potential product and a startup venture. We competed in the Breast Cancer Startup Challenge, participated in a business pitch competition, presented for potential partners, learned how to work with a diverse group of talented individuals, dove into intellectual property, licensing and regulatory considerations and even opened up discussions of a merger with a potential competitor, just to name a few things. None of these things would have been possible without your help and the Breast Cancer Startup Challenge. We can’t thank you enough for a great experience and professional development which will help us achieve our future goals and aspirations.


-Dan Leventhal, University of Chicago Oliver Weisser, University of Chicago

 Mesopharm Therapeutics

It is increasingly difficult for early stage startups to break into the competitive sphere of Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology industry. The Breast Cancer Startup Challenge organized by the Center for Advancing Innovation (CAI) has provided one-of-a-kind opportunity for young minds with passion to make an impact in the pharmaceutical field. At Mesopharm, we are grateful to have Rosemarie Truman and her CAI team from day 1 of the Challenge. The CAI not only provides guidance and support but also organizes connection to experienced advisors, resources, and seed funders. In addition, the CAI is truly interested in growth of a young company, particularly in gaining experience in entrepreneurship. Mesopharm looks forward to the ongoing association with the CAI and our next exciting phases of growth in the coming months.


-Kayam Chak, Ph.D, Co-founder & COO, Mesopharm Therapeutis, Inc.

 Pectogen Therapeutics

“The Challenge provided an unique and incredible opportunity to get involved in developing a life-saving breast cancer technology, and we’re excited to have put together such a strong team that will work hard to bring a product with multiple medical indications to market for the benefit of breast cancer patients worldwide. We would like to thank everyone involved in the Challenge, especially CAI, the Avon Foundation, and Dr. Burg and her team at Clemson University. Finally, we want to extend a special thanks to Shafin Khan and his commercialization team at New Orleans BioInnovation Center for their continued support of our entrepreneurial efforts."


- Frank Glaser, Pectogen Therapeutics

 Taxor Therapeutics

“Over 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the U.S. alone, and this kit can have a major impact on determining a more personalized course of treatment for these patients. Our team is looking forward to building a startup to develop this technology and improve breast cancer treatment options for women around the world.”


- Brian Yu, Taxor Diagnostics

 Baylor College of Medicine

Last year I had an incredible opportunity to be part of a startup challenge competition in partnership with the National Cancer Institute and funded by the Avon Foundation and The Center for Advancing Innovation. It was a competition based on promising breast cancer technologies selected from approximately 5000 patents. Our team consisted of postdocs and lab technicians with various areas and years of experience; cellular signaling, animal surgery, cell arrest, molecular training and business plan writing. This was exactly the type of entrepreneurship experience I was looking for when I was a graduate student. There were several teams from various institutions across the country, the teams ranged in size, age, training, experience and educational background. The competition provided a perfect arena for scientific interests to collaboratively and creatively commercialize a product that could effectively enhance or replace current screening, detection and/or prognostic technologies. Our team was excited to meet each week to discuss our strategy. Yes, there was a financial incentive for the winning team. There was a wealth of support throughout this competition that was facilitated by Rosemarie Truman, founder and CEO of The Center for Advancing Innovation. We believe this challenge provided an invaluable experience that is unable to be replicated by any other possible course or business plan challenge.


- B. Guillory, Baylor College of Medicine

 Bespoke Therapeutics

As an individual, it is sometimes hard to believe that you can change the world, but through The Breast Cancer Start-Up Challenge, the Avon Foundation, The Center for Advancing Innovation and National Institutes of Health gave us the courage, tools, and the vision to believe we can. Now, we dream of developing a leading cancer therapeutic and making a difference in the lives of people across the globe. We started as five students pursuing our individual paths, but through this competition we became a family. We are business people, lawyers, and scientists who believe that what we do matters. We have learned from each other and compliment each other’s skillsets in many ways. We have truly enjoyed the experience of growing with our company. The Center for Advancing Innovation has guided us through the steps of developing our company, our business plan, growth strategy and forming our network. CAI has supported us by introducing us to investors, navigating through business issues, and connecting us with advocates. The CAI team brings an expertise and dedication that is simply unparalleled. We thank Rosemarie Truman, Youhong Wang, and Jonathan Lui for their service and support. We could not have done it without them.


- The BESPOKE Team: Alison Arter, Andy Bowline, Gonzo Estupinan, John Hodnette, Kyle Murrah, & Janel Suburu

 Heragen, Inc.

An exemplary initiative from a committed team. I feel that the Breast Cancer Startup Challenge (BCSC) is one of the most well-organized start-up challenges conducted. Right from initial selection of participating teams until announcement of winners and subsequent start-up mentorship, at each step, Rosemarie and her team (Youhong Wang & Jonathan Lui) represent clarity of vision, structured planning and near perfect implementation. The efforts that Rosemarie puts in to see winning teams succeed as start-ups deserve a special mention. At Heragen, we have been continuously working with Rosemarie in the last few months, fine-tuning our product strategy and business plan. In addition, her initiatives in enabling teams meet potential investors and advisors reflect her commitment. We, at Heragen, are proud of our association with BCSC and thank them for their continued support.


-Naveen Chandramohan Co-founder & CEO, Heragen, Inc.