MIP Finalists: Life Science Diagnostics and Research Tools

Nov 15, 2017

We can’t believe that there are only TWO WEEKS left until MIP! We are continuing our blog series on MIP finalists by spotlighting those in the “Life Science Diagnostics and Research Tools” category! Want to see who the winner is? Reserve your table or ticket for the November 30th Most Innovative New Product Awards HERE!



CEO: Michael W. Nall
About the Product: All patients diagnosed with cancer need to be assessed for eligibility for targeted and immunotherapies such as Keytruda. Our PDL1 offering helps make that possible when a surgical tissue biopsy is inadequate or medically inadvisable. We provide powerful clinical options.
What is the toughest obstacle you have had to face? Physician adoption of new technologies or methods always takes more time than you think, particularly in cancer treatment. You might see a blood sample vs. a tissue biopsy as an easy choice to make – based on common sense; however, physicians make decisions based on years of compiled data, in addition to common sense.
What is one of your favorite parts of being a startup? The ability to make fast decisions that bring new solutions to market. Since we re-launched the company in 2014, we have gone from one test to fifteen tests available for clinical treatment. Quickly driving patient benefit into clinical practice is always rewarding.
Why did you apply to MIP? We are making a difference every day for patients diagnosed with cancer and wanted to share the news of our success with a wider audience. We are proud to be a part of the growing and vibrant San Diego biotech environment.



CEO: Francis deSouza
About the Product:
The NovaSeq sequencing platform was built with groundbreaking innovations, to access scalable throughput and flexibility for virtually any genome, sequencing method, and scale. We will look back as this time in history as a turning point as NovaSeq helps drive the Genomic Revolution.
How did you come up with the idea for your product? Illumina has a yearly technology product planning process, where we map out long term product needs and align them with our technology innovations. As part of this process, we identified the need for a new high-end breakthrough sequencer. We are seeing a voracious demand for sequencing and NovaSeq fills that need.
Why did you apply to MIP?  Illumina is a company built on innovation and the NovaSeq is our greatest achievement. We feel the innovation behind the engineering improvements make it worthy for consideration.
Who is someone who believed in your product? We have the complete commitment, support, and backing of the entire company. 2017 CONNECT Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Inductee Jay Flatley (link to press release) was a very strong advocate for the project from the earliest stages.



CEO: Ping Yeh
About the Product:
StemoniX can convert anyone’s skin into stem cells and then organ cells, such as human microHearts for drug discovery and, potentially, personalized medicine. StemoniX’s organ cells more closely mimic human cells, with beating microHearts, and synapse-firing 3D microBrains, for more accurate prediction of therapeutic and toxic effects. 
How did you come up with the idea for your product? Our founder and CEO, Ping Yeh, was diagnosed with Lymphoma in his 30s. He was resistant to his first round of chemotherapy while experiencing toxic side effects. The doctors then wanted to put him on stronger chemo, yet were unsure whether it would be effective or more toxic to his organs such as his heart. Essentially, no one knew whether the medicine would help him or kill him. After surviving, Ping started StemoniX with the intention of developing techniques to test therapies outside the body, to better answer that questions.
What is the toughest obstacle you have had to face? Originally, what StemoniX is doing was only a concept. We spent almost a year working with no funding, using our savings and working out of a basement to develop our ideas enough to raise early funding to achieve proof-of-concept.
Who is someone who believed in your product? Years before StemoniX was ever created, CEO Ping Yeh met Steven Snyder, the first General Manager at Microsoft and the Author of “Leadership and the Art of Struggle.”  Despite the fact that StemoniX was simply a concept, he made the first investment. This investment allowed StemoniX to achieve its first milestones as a product.

Tega Therapeutics


CEO: Timothy Scott
About the Product: TEGA’s library of recombinant heparan sulfates provides researchers with a variety of heparan sulfate compositions, all of which are consistent from batch to batch, highly purified and characterized. This line of products overcomes the variability, contamination and lack of diversity in the commonly used materials derived from animal tissues.
What is the toughest obstacle you have had to face? In developing a novel product, we have had to overcome technical challenges that few others have encountered. The way forward is not always clear and progress is sometimes slow.
What is one of your favorite parts of being a startup? Being part of a startup requires each member to fill many different roles, giving ample opportunity to stretch and grow. The challenge keeps startup work exciting.
How did you come up with the idea for your product? As a graduate student, I was frustrated by the lack of heparan sulfate reagents available for basic research. Comments from colleagues in the field confirmed that this is a common concern. We recognized that we could derive the reagents from mammalian cells through genetic and bioprocess engineering.