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Cornell University


Friday, March 18, 2016
Ithaca Pre-Seed Workshop (PSW) day 1

BESTies are being recruited to join each technology champion to round out the teams of professionals who together will evaluate early stage university based high-tech inventions for their commercial worth. Previously, BESTies have also taken their own ideas through the PSW. The Pre-Seed Workshop (PSW) is a systematic approach designed to take a raw idea from a university lab or other source and investigate its marketplace viability and potential as the foundation of a start-up business using a preliminary commercialization plan developed in this unique, collaborative, hands-on workshop.

Teams are created around a central technology, product or business idea and typically include a technology champion, a legal advisor, an industry expert, an MBA student and an experienced entrepreneur...[and a BESTie!]

The dates and times for PSW are:
Thurs, March 17, 5:30 pm – 8:00 – Kickoff dinner in the atrium of Weill Hall
Fri, March 18, 8:00 am – 6:00 pm – Day 1 at the McGovern Center
Fri, March 25, 8:00 am – 6:30 pm – Day 2 at the McGovern Center

PSW is an intense, two and a half day workshop to efficiently:

  • Vet projects and business ideas
  • Launch pre-seed stage companies
  • Increase the entrepreneurial activity within the community

It will answer three questions:

  • Is my idea worth commercializing?
  • What should my role be?
  • What are my next steps?


80% of your time is spent in hands-on group sessions with team members with diverse backgrounds in technical, business, financial and legal areas.

At PSW you will work through 9 modules with break-out sessions to answer 20 key business questions related to the technology and its market, competition, business potential, etc. At the end, participants create an overall presentation of their idea and deliver it to a panel of experts. The expert panel then provides feedback on the merit of the opportunity.

This year's teams center around six technology ideas:

  1. Early lung cancer diagnostic (Roy Cohen):  More people in the United States die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer. Although biomarkers for lung cancer are known, and antibody-based methods for their detection have been available for many years, current diagnostic methods are expensive or invasive, and are not applicable for general screening purposes. This results in only 15% of cases being diagnosed at an early stage. Thus, detection of lung cancer blood biomarkers has become an area of much interest in efforts to facilitate early diagnosis and improve survival rates. Tethered Enzyme Technology (TET) is an innovative approach for biomarker detection involving highly functional enzymes tethered to nanoparticles. These “solid state” catalytic reactions enable highly sensitive and fast analysis, occurring orders of magnitude more quickly than antibodies recognize antigens. Based on our preliminary data using samples from animal models and human subjects, we aim to integrate TET into a rapid, cost effective and minimally invasive Point-of-Care Testing (PoCT) platform for lung cancer. This could revolutionize screening, early diagnosis, and monitoring of disease progression for lung cancer as well as for many other pathologies.
  2. Nanopore sequencing (still narrowing down the specific application) (Jonathan Alden and Alejandro Cortese):  Nanopore-based sequencing that offers 100 to 1,000 times improvement in signal-to-noise ratio, and thus greatly increased speed and reduced cost. This technology can be parallelized, is all-electronic (no costly, bulky optics) and is made using standard CMOS processing, giving it the potential to be cheap and reliable. This technology can be used in point-of-care diagnostics or for other applications.
  3. Diagnostic for pre-term labor (Jonathan Butcher and Newton deFaria): We have developed a novel technology capable of quantifying local mechanical and bioelectrical characteristics of soft tissue, harmlessly and in real-time. Such a device has the potential to transform medical practice by providing an injury-free digital biopsy for immediate diagnosis, monitoring, and point-of-problem treatment. Our initial clinical opportunity is early diagnosis of preterm birth.
  4. EpiWellness diagnostic kit (Mike Shuler and Magnolia Ariza), a precision medicine tool to monitor changes in the human epigenome in response to biotic and abiotic stressors (Magnolia Ariza-Nieto): This diagnostic is designed to better understand the etiology of epigenetic abnormalities implicated in insulin insensitivity states and metabolic disorders in a personalized manner. This kit offers a collection of metabolomic and transcriptomic targets that together cover the metabolic pathways that modulate changes in the epigenome. It is a tool for health care providers interested in benefiting their practice with the knowledge that can be generated with the precision medicine initiative.
  5. Technology to improve sleep for hospitalized bed-bound patients (Rana Zadeh): In partnership among Cornell Weill Medicine, Engineering, and Human Ecology, our team has developed a system solution to improve sleep and circadian rhythms for bed-bound hospitalized patients combining technological, environmental, and educational solutions.
  6. Dry eye treatment drops (Mingchee Tan and Kirk Samaroo): Based on Lucbricin, a mimetic molecule that is potentially more effective for treating dry eye syndrome (DES) than the leading dry eye treatment drops currently on the market. DES is a common problem affecting 10-30% of the US population with a growing global market of $1.6 billion. First-line treatments involve artificial tear drops, but the symptom relief lasts no more than 15 minutes, requiring repeat application. To address this issue, our product is a polymer solution that provides a sustained hydration layer on the eye to provide comfort and moisture, eliminating the need for repeat drops.
By application only
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