How the TEC Program Brings Business Startups to Life
The Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (TEC) Certificate Program hosted its annual Spring Startup Presentation event via Zoom with student groups presenting their semester projects. The TEC Program has produced companies like Tethis and Locus Biosciences from its annual presentations.
The event was held via Zoom with students, faculty, executives and NC State partners in attendance to ask questions and provide feedback to each startup presentations. Students were also given networking opportunities after the presentations session.
What is TEC?
The TEC Program is a part of the Jenkins MBA Program offering graduate students the opportunity to engage in all stages of a company’s formation and growth. The two-semester course is typically made up of MBA and STEM students from across NC State, from both master’s and Ph.D. programs.
Lisa Chang, director of TEC and lecturer, and Steve Barr, professor of technology management, manage the program and oversee each startup group. Groups work with over 100 technologies from the U.S. Navy, NASA and the National Security Agency (NSA).
“The teams take three technologies and then go through a two semester sequence to take those technologies and all kinds of products that they create from those three technologies,” said Barr. “Those technologies can produce 100 product ideas that students narrow down to one technology-product pairing to create a startup that has a market-entry strategy and an expansion strategy.”
According to Barr, the TEC Program would not be as successful with out executives-in-residence (EIR), members of the Triangle business community that donate their time to assist students creating successful startups. This year’s EIRs included Greg Naderi, vice president of sales and alliances for Transmira; Jim Cobb, founder of the Bloodhound Group; and Christophe Renaud, general counsel for Windlift.
“Watching our team learn the process of connecting technology to product features and market benefits has been very rewarding.”
Many of the EIRs are experienced startup mentors that have been involved with Poole College and the TEC Program for years. Naderi, Cobb and Renaud worked with Terso, a chronic wound care company, from conceptualization to the final presentation, bringing their years of expertise to each stage of development.
“The executives are involved at all stages from sorting technologies, to brainstorming potential markets, to evaluating different markets, conducting competitive research, identifying supply chain partners and potential acquisition targets,” said Renaud. “At each step of the process, we help educate the students on the various tools and techniques used by professionals, and then work through the use of the tools as a group to demystify the process and share hard earned experience with the teams.”
The students are not the only ones learning from the TEC Program. Many EIRs take program knowledge and apply it to their own businesses.
“I believe being an EIR has helped me become a better leader within my own company. It has allowed me to stay sharp using skillsets I hadn’t used in years,” said Naderi. “Certainly, a lot of executives and leaders would benefit from being mentored themselves. In the end, the learning process is a two-way street between mentees and mentors.”
Creating a Startup
The startup products ranged from a novel anticoagulant to an advanced burn hydrogel. Some students were even able to find personal connections to the problems their companies would be solving.
The Terso team built a business around a chronic wound healing spray for diabetic ulcers, which would improve the daily lives of millions of Americans including team member Michelle Fulford’s great uncle.
“Michelle’s Uncle Butch switched treatment plans three times, each with different dosages and directions,” said James McGee, a College of Engineering master’s degree student. “He had difficulty keeping the different plans straight which only increased the time it took him to heal. We believe that a product like Terso, with its simple application and easy storage, would have greatly improved his wound care and helped to get him back on his feet much sooner.”
TEC 2020 Startups
Terso: James McGee, Michelle Fulford and Satheesh Pothuganti
Terso is a team dedicated to providing an easier to use biologic wound spray for patients with chronic wounds. The patent-pending fibrin technology allows for the implementation of additives such as growth factors or antibiotics, resulting in better healing outcomes for patients. By providing a product that’s more affordable, easier to use, and easier to store, we hope to get chronic pressure ulcer patients back on their feet faster than the current standard of care.
T:1 Fluid Solutions – Ken Dulaney, Haley Gallagher, Ben Hearn and Ryan O’Hara
T:1 Fluid Solutions is developing a blood sample handler called the FLiPP to separate and store blood components so that at-home testing kits can deliver accurate results. The technology developed at NC State uses capillary action and a patented design methodology to improve test reliability by controlling sample volume and spread pattern. With initial angel investment funding and grants, we plan to develop our first product in partnership with a Tier 1 supplier to LabCorp. The FLiPP is a platform technology with potential applications to remote diagnostics for tropical disease detection, water pollution monitoring, and food and beverage quality control. Email us at email@example.com for more info
Lymph Standards: Will Brown, Jacob Dooley and John Wyant
Lymph Standards has developed a medical device, the AERO, designed to provide fast, objective diagnosis and staging and lymphedema for physicians, physical therapists and occupational therapists. Lymphedema can result from trauma, surgery, and radiation therapy, and affects over 200 million patients in the world, with treatment costs ranging from $25-40 billion annually. The handheld AERO device represents a significant advance over subjective and time-consuming assessment methods such as thumb impressions and multiple tape measure recordings by providing an instantaneous disease state score, potentially saving $7-12 billion annually related to late-stage or improper diagnosis of lymphedema.
Origami Therapeutics: Juan Chiossone, David Edeal, Katherine Jetton, Eric Roberts, and Taylor Utecht
Origami Therapeutics is a biosciences company that develops anticoagulants for use during cardiology procedures. Our product, RNA-T, is an anticoagulant and fast acting reversal agent kit that enables cardiologists to control the delicate balance between thinning the blood enough to prevent clots around the introduction of a foreign object during surgical procedures, and not be too thin as to cause a severe bleeding event. Unlike heparin, the main blood thinner currently used, our product has a safe and predictable dose response and a safe and quick acting reversal agent that can be used to decrease complications and hospital length of stay on a per patient basis, saving typical 500 bed hospitals upwards of $3.5 million annually. By leveraging Dr. Thom Labean’s RNA Origami Molecule developed at NC State, our company’s goal is to develop life changing therapeutics and license them to the pharmaceutical companies that will be able to deliver them to the healthcare institutions that most desperately need them.
United Support Burn Care: Ogheneovo Idolor, Scott Lassell, Keslee Snuggs and Harish Laxshmi
The MediBurn hydrogel burn treatment dressing is a unique formulation that therapeutically treats burn wounds by releasing medication directly into the wound bed for up to 10 days and maintaining an ideal healing environment. This extended wear capability would result in a significant reduction in the frequency of dressing changes as compared to the current standard of care, in turn greatly reducing damage to the burn wound. Less damage to burn wounds reduces the rate of secondary infections and the level of severe pain experienced by the patients, improves healing outcomes, and reduces the duration of the average hospital stay by up to 40%. This product represents a $280 million dollar opportunity in the US burn care product market alone, with a platform potential presenting additional opportunities in the diabetic ulcer and veterinary wound treatment market segments.