Garima Bhadwaj’s Bion wins at Northeastern biotech startups competition

Garima Bhadwaj
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By Greg St. Martin

News at Northeastern

BOSTON–Biotech entre­pre­neur­ship took center stage at North­eastern on Friday, when four teams of grad­uate stu­dents pitched their star­tups to a panel of judges at a com­pe­ti­tion that wrapped up an eight-week entre­pre­neur­ship boot camp.

Garima Bhadwaj
Garima Bhadwaj

The Biotech Entre­pre­neurs, a grad­uate stu­dent group that formed last year, hosted its inau­gural Sci­ence and Engi­neering Entre­pre­neur­ship Design Com­pe­ti­tion in the Raytheon Amphithe­ater. Leading up to the com­pe­ti­tion, the four star­tups par­tic­i­pated in the stu­dent group’s Biotech Boot­camp, which con­sisted of sev­eral “crash courses” over the past eight weeks on topics such as devel­oping a busi­ness plan, fundraising, pro­tecting intel­lec­tual prop­erty, and cre­ating an effec­tive pitch.

After the star­tups pitched their busi­nesses and held Q&As with the judges, the judging panel selected two win­ners it felt were the most viable and closest to market: Bion and 3D For­tify, which will share the $1,000 grand prize.

Meet the four startups

Bion stems from a project led by team member and doc­toral stu­dent Garima Bhadwaj, PhD’17, in pro­fessor Thomas Webster’s lab, and is focused on devel­oping a coating for med­ical implantable devices that would repel bac­teria and decrease infec­tions. 3D For­tify, which is a spinout of North­eastern pro­fessor Ran­dall Erb’s lab, focuses on using 3-D mag­netic printing to create cus­tomized, com­posite pros­thetics for patients. The startup cur­rently has two pro­to­type 3-D printers.

Graduate students from the winning teams, Bion and 3D Fortify, in the Biotech Entrepreneurs' inaugural Science and Engineering Entrepreneurship Design Competition. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University
Graduate students from the winning teams, Bion and 3D Fortify, in the Biotech Entrepreneurs’ inaugural Science and Engineering Entrepreneurship Design Competition. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

The other two groups in the com­pe­ti­tion were Boston Mate­rials and Ther­a­peutic Inno­va­tions. Boston Mate­rials, also a spinout of Erb’s lab, aims to increase the per­for­mance and effi­ciency of cur­rently man­u­fac­tured advanced ceramic com­pos­ites used in lithium-ion bat­tery elec­trodes, capac­i­tive deion­iza­tion elec­trodes, alumina-based armor pan­eling, and ceramic mem­brane filters.

Ther­a­peutic Inno­va­tions is focused on bringing low-cost health­care solutions—specifically, pedi­atric medial devices—to devel­oping coun­tries. The startup is cur­rently in the pro­to­typing phase of cre­ating a low-cost res­pi­rator for newborns.

Daniel Ventre, PhD’18, Ther­a­peutic Inno­va­tions’ chief oper­ating officer, said Northeastern’s entre­pre­neurial ecosystem has played a crit­ical role in the startup’s growth—from men­tor­ship to gap funding from IDEA to industry experts’ feed­back throughout the Biotech Boot­camp process.

Real­izing early on what you don’t know and finding the best ways to address that have been the most crit­ical things in terms of our own per­sonal growth,” said Ventre, who is pur­suing a doc­torate in tissue engi­neering. “The feed­back we’ve received has been huge.”

We wanted to make our group very inter­dis­ci­pli­nary. That’s where great ideas, inno­va­tion, and cre­ativity happen.”.
— Karlo Delos Reyes, PhD’18, pres­i­dent and co-founder of the Biotech Entrepreneurs

Meet the Biotech Entrepreneurs

Karlo Delos Reyes, PhD’18, is a doc­toral stu­dent in chem­ical engi­neering and a co-founder of 3D For­tify. He’s also the pres­i­dent and co-founder of the Biotech Entre­pre­neurs. The group is focused on encour­aging grad­uate stu­dents with novel solu­tions to unmet med­ical needs to pursue their own star­tups. In the past year, the group has orga­nized net­working events and hosted local entre­pre­neurs for sem­inar dis­cus­sions in addi­tion to launching its first SEED Competition.

The Biotech Entre­pre­neurs stu­dent orga­ni­za­tion counts about 70 mem­bers and is a part of Northeastern’s Mosaic net­work. Delos Reyes said engaging with stu­dents from a range of dis­ci­plines and majors was a key focus in the group’s first year. “We wanted to make our group very inter­dis­ci­pli­nary,” he said. “That’s where great ideas, inno­va­tion, and cre­ativity happen.”

(Published with permission from News at Northeastern)


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