Alabama Launchpad is a statewide startup pitch competition in which winners receive $25,000 and $50,000. Auburn University spinout biotech company, Nanoxort, has applied for the competition. We asked them five questions about the business. Here are their responses.
Tell us about your business.
At Nanoxort, we create safe and multifunctional contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that will enhance diagnostic accuracy and provide patients with safer, more effective treatments. We are focused on enhancing the health and well-being of patients undergoing MRI scans through our expertise in nanotechnology engineering. Our solutions will improve disease diagnosis and enable personalized therapy using cutting-edge nanotechnology that is safer and more disease-specific compared to other options. In collaboration with Auburn University, we have developed the nanomaterial and conducted initial preclinical experiments, and have successfully acquired $256,000 of Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to continue preclinical testing of the product.
Tell us about yourself and your background.
Our team includes Dr. Allan David (Co-founder), Dr. Tareq Anani (Co-founder), Dr. Barry Yeh (Co-founder & General Manager), and Dr. Abhinav Sannidhi (R&D Manager/ Principal Investigator).
Dr. Allan David (Co-founder) has worked in the field of nanomaterials for 20+ years, and with magnetic nanoparticles for more than 14 years. He has extensive experience with nanotechnology-based diagnostic agents, as well as the synthesis and surface modification of nanoparticles and nanocomposites for diagnostic and controlled drug-release applications.
Dr. Tareq Anani (Co-founder) has 6+ years of experience in the development of nanomaterial-based diagnostic agents, with a focus on superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) for biomedical applications. His experience includes synthesis of novel materials, characterization of their physiochemical properties, and evaluation using animal studies.
Dr. Barry Yeh (Co-founder) is the General Manager at Nanoxort LLC. He has worked on controlling the physiochemical properties of magnetic nanoparticles including the particle size, size distribution, surface properties, and composition. He has demonstrated an ability to learn and adapt in several disciplines of study, including physics, electrical engineering, and chemical engineering.
Dr. Abhinav Sannidhi is the Research and Development Manager at Nanoxort LLC, serving as the Principal Investigator (PI) for the STTR Phase I project. He recently obtained his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering (2020) at Auburn University. His research experience is focused on the development and characterization of magnetic particles and the quantification of magnetically labeled cells for biomedical applications.
How long have you been affiliated with the New Venture Accelerator and what has it meant for you to be there?
Since our inception in 2018, we have been engaged with various groups at Auburn University such as Auburn Research and Technology Foundation (ARTF), Auburn LAUNCH funding, and the Office of Innovation Advancement and Commercialization (IAC). We are also currently participating in the 2021 Summer Accelerator Program at the New Venture Accelerator. Without all the support, it is unlikely that we would have been able to launch this startup.
What are your goals for growing your business? What does your next year look like?
At Nanoxort, one of our primary goals is to create opportunities for scientists who strive to innovate in nanotechnology, advance the MRI contrast market, and leave a positive impact on people’s lives and the communities around them. To grow our business in the next year, our goal is to generate early sales revenue and achieve Phase II funding to conduct clinical studies of the product.
How would assistance from Launchpad help you achieve those goals?
Launchpad support will be used to establish production capabilities and hire personnel in Alabama to support early sales into pre-clinical applications that do not require regulatory approval – all of which will also enhance our competitiveness for Phase II funding and accelerate the commercialization of our product.
Nanoxort hopes to follow in the footsteps of Auburn startup Vulcan Line Tools, recent winner in the concept stage of the competition. Since inception, Alabama Launchpad has invested more than $5.6 million in over 100 startups from across the state.