LymphaTech, a team that evolved in Georgia Tech's TI:GER® (Technological Innovation: Generating Economic Results) Program, is on a winning streak at national and international business plan competitions.
The team’s technology helps physicians determine the lymphatic health of breast cancer survivors. A deterioration of function in the lymph system leads to a debilitating disease known as lymphedema in 50 percent of those people. Currently, it is difficult or impossible for physicians to diagnose lymphedema before irreversible swelling occurs due to fluid buildup caused by missing, damaged or removed lymph vessels and nodes, according to the team.
The five-person LymphTech team recently won Best Presentation and the Women’s Health Award in the Rice Business Plan Competition, one of the most elite in the world. LymphaTech finished sixth overall out of 42 teams, and won a total of $38,000.
“It’s the hardest startup competition in the country to get into,” says Margi Berbari, director of the TI:GER program. “LymphaTech is on a roll.”
Earlier this spring, the team also placed second in the Oregon New Venture Championship ($10,000) and third in the Georgia Bowl Competition.
The next stop for the team is the 2014 Global Venture Labs Investment Competition May 1-3 in Austin, Texas.
LymphaTech includes two Tech MBA students, Nate Frank and Salim Vagh; two Emory law students, Jeff Adams and Robert Jones; and Mike Weiler, a biomedical engineering PhD student who developed the business idea from his work at Tech’s Laboratory of Lymphatic Biology and Bioengineering.
They all participate in the two-year TI:GER Program, a collaboration between Georgia Tech and Emory Law School which brings together PhD, MBA and law students in the classroom and research lab to advance research into real business opportunities.
“We’re no longer treating this like a class,” explains team member Robert Jones. “We’re focused on further laboratory research, prototype development, securing a license with Georgia Tech, and solidifying our FDA trials strategy. We’re able to fund these initial steps using our competition winnings, and we will continue to seek additional funding.”
LymphaTech’s device “works by optically measuring lymphatic pressure, like a blood pressure cuff for your lymphatic system,” Jones says. “It’s a significant advancement over the current diagnostic gold standard, an ordinary tape measure, which is ineffective at catching the swelling until it becomes permanent.”
LymphaTech is targeting both the at-home and clinical device markets for its diagnostic technology. Its device is easy enough to use that patients will be able to monitor their own lymphatic health at home without having to visit a physician.