Texas New Ventures Competition recognizes cutting-edge tech

TNVC winner[From left: Vice Chancellor and Dean of Texas A&M Engineering Dr. M. Katherine Banks, President and CEO of Noninvasix, Inc. Graham Randall and Vice Chancellor for Research Jon Mogford].

New medical technology that enables monitoring of a baby’s brain oxygen levels during labor and delivery is a step closer to reality after its startup company, Noninvasix, Inc., was awarded $100,000 in funding as the top company at the 2015 Texas New Ventures Competition (TNVC) at Texas A&M University.

The competition, which attracted more than 90 young companies, promoted the commercialization of emerging technology by recognizing companies with high growth potential. It was hosted by Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) and sponsored by The Texas A&M University System, the Texas A&M Division of Research, the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship, the Aggie Angel Network, Texas A&M System Technology Commercialization and the Research Valley.

“This is important; it’s important for Texas A&M, for the Texas A&M System, for the region, and I have never heard of an argument built that says this is not one of the core elements that makes this country strong and great,” said John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. 

Noninvasix, a Galveston-based company headed by President and CEO Graham Randall, received $50,000 as a first-place winner of the competition and an additional $50,000 from the Research Valley Partnership, via the Texas Emerging Technology Fund (TETF) —  funding Randall said was important to companies attempting to make their ideas into realities. 

“We’re still very early stage,” Randall said. “We’ve got pretty hefty patent expenses coming up, so this will help us. Lots of eyes have looked at us and said that there’s something here, and this will help us get through the door to potential investors.”

In addition to Noninvasix, seven other companies were recognized and received prize money. ScribeSense, an online service aimed at reducing the time it takes teachers to grade tests, earned second-place honors and received $30,000. Thermal Expansion Solutions, LLC ranked third and received $20,000 for its alloy technology intended for the opto-electronics industry. In addition, the company also received $30,000 in TETF money. Fourth-place honors and $15,000 in prize money were awarded to Brevitest Technologies for its point-of-care device that performs clinical laboratory tests in 10 minutes. TeVido BioDevices, a company that uses 3D bio-printing of a woman’s living cells to build custom grafts for breast reconstruction, was awarded fifth place and $10,000. It also received $15,000 in TETF money. Sano Chemicals was ranked sixth and also was awarded $10,000 for its antifungal compound. As part of the TNVC elevator pitch competition, Guardian Sensors, Inc. took top honors, winning $10,000 for its one-minute pitch of its solution for vital sign monitoring of inpatients. ECM Technologies earned second place and $5,000 for its one-minute pitch of biomaterial dressing for chronic wounds.

Addressing the companies, Vice Chancellor and Dean of Texas A&M Engineering and Director of TEES Dr. M. Katherine Banks lauded their work and the efforts of the event sponsors.

“We are here to help close the gap between the lab and the marketplace,” Banks said. “TEES works to ensure entrepreneurs like you successfully transform your innovative ideas into reality and ultimately, into the hands of the public.” 

The daylong competition, which was open to all Texas-based companies seeking to bring new or enhanced technology to the marketplace, required 20 companies in the pre-seed/seed, start-up or early growth stages to pitch their ideas to judges that included angels and venture capitalists, experienced entrepreneurs, non-profit founders, legal professionals, patent experts and banking/investment professionals. The esteemed group of companies was previously selected from a pool of more than 90 TNVC applicants. In the days leading to the competition, participants received personal coaching and access to mentor strategists as they developed their competition business plans and presentation pitches.

For James Monroe, whose company Thermal Expansion Solutions earned a total of $50,000 in prize money, the competition was his first exposure to the fast-paced environment of business plans and pitches, and he said it provided some validation of the personal investments he’s already made in his company.

“This is the first competition I’ve ever done, first competition for the company, and, honestly, the first influx of cash for the company,” Monroe said. “This is tremendously helpful. Really good companies competed today, and I feel lucky to be in the top tier of them. To win this money, it will really kind of launch us into the next stage, the next level. I really believe in the technology, and that’s why I’m investing a lot of my time, a lot of my effort into trying to make it a reality.”

Funding for TNVC was made possible by Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, The Texas A&M University System and the Texas A&M Division of Research. Additional funding was provided by the Research Valley Partnership through the Texas Emerging Technology Fund.

For more information on the Texas New Ventures Competition, including a full list of the day’s competitors, visit www.texasnvc.org.

Contact: Duncan Maitland, TEES Assistant Agency Director for Commercialization, at 979.458.3471 or via email: djmaitland@tamu.edu or Ryan Garcia at 979.847.5833 or via email: ryan.garcia99@tamu.edu.