What do electronic health records, therapeutics targeting variations in the HDL cholesterol gene and an industrial oven system have in common? They are all technologies being developed by startup companies who now call UConn’s expanded incubator facility in Farmington home.
The University of Connecticut’s Technology Incubation Program (TIP) received $19 million in state funding to expand its incubator location at UConn Health in the state’s Bioscience Corridor, which is part of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s Bioscience Connecticut initiative. Construction on 32 additional wet labs and 40 offices was completed last month for use by top technology startups from within and outside of Connecticut.
Many TIP startups are operated by UConn faculty and are based on innovations developed in their labs. One such startup is Lipid Genomics, Inc., founded by UConn Health faculty member and Great Minds in STEM 2013 Scientist of the Year, Dr. Annabelle Rodriguez-Oquendo. Rodriguez-Oquendo moved her startup into TIP to begin work on Phase I clinical trials investigating Lipid Genomics’ FDA-approved investigational drug targeted at people with variations in the HDL (“good cholesterol”) SCARB1 gene. More than 117 million people in the U.S. could benefit from this drug once it reaches the market.
Companies based on non-UConn innovations make up a portion of TIP’s startup population as well, and also have a lot to gain from being a part of the program.
“Because of our choice to locate at TIP, we’ve got an instant, first class home base in the Hartford area with curb appeal that lets us look the part for customers and private investors,” said Roger Laflamme, vice president and chief operating officer of Rapid Radiant Technologies, Inc. “As an entrepreneur, you don’t want to spend your time searching for space and equipment. You want to focus on growing your business. Locating at TIP lets you do that and provides valuable business services you can’t find somewhere else.”
Rapid Radiant Technologies, Inc. was founded in Connecticut in 2015 to commercialize an industrial infrared heating system developed by Nicholas P. De Luca, who is also vice president and chief technology officer. The patented system allows heating an object to up to 1200°F in three seconds using low voltage, high amperage electrical current drawn from a stored energy source, which can be portable or wired into a fixed location. The technology will eliminate most gas and electric convection ovens used today in manufacturing given its ability to more quickly reach desired temperatures and dramatically reduce energy consumption.
TIP’s incubator offers state-of-the-art equipment and access to expensive, specialized scientific instrumentation that means the difference between a startup being virtual or truly “open for business.” Now that there is additional space, several existing and newly joined TIP companies are able to expand their operations by leasing more labs and offices and hiring additional personnel.
“We already have plans to expand into additional offices and a software development lab in the new building,” says Eric Rosow, chief executive officer of Diameter Health, a healthcare IT company originally founded in Newton, Massachusetts and headquartered in Farmington that was named Most Promising Software Company and Tech Company to Watch by the Connecticut Technology Council in 2015. “The location in the heart of the Bioscience Corridor lets us tap into important resources in Connecticut’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and gives us access to top-notch talent, the opportunity to collaborate with world-class university researchers, and introductions to possible investors and other funding sources. There’s no question that TIP is the place to be for technology startups in this region.”
Diameter Health develops software to help health systems, Health Information Exchanges and Accountable Care Organizations leverage their investments in electronic health records (EHRs) to succeed in an era of health reform. Using their proprietary algorithms, Diameter Health’s platform engine parses, normalizes and classifies a broad spectrum of clinical data from disparate EHRs. The startup’s web apps then analyze the data to reveal insights, improve clinical documentation and identify patients at high risk. This “clinical intelligence” empowers healthcare providers to deliver superior care to their patients.
TIP has three locations all housed on UConn campuses in Farmington, Storrs and Avery Point in Groton. TIP companies also have strong connections to the research output of the University of Connecticut, and each startup can access UConn’s high-tech facilities and work with the University’s expert faculty in various forms of research partnerships.
Since it was established in 2003, TIP has accelerated the growth and success of over 60 technology-based startups. TIP companies have already had a significant impact on Connecticut’s economy, raising $45 million in grants and another $64.5 million in debt and equity, while generating over $43 million in revenues by the end of 2014. With the addition of over 20,000 square feet of incubator space, the number of startups that successfully graduate from TIP is expected to grow substantially.
“Connecticut has been the home of countless technological advances and innovations throughout the state’s history,” said Dr. Jeff Seemann, vice president for research, the UConn office responsible for TIP. “With its proximity to industry leaders in the field of bioscience like the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine and the cutting-edge researchers at UConn Health, the expanded TIP facility in Farmington continues to be a key resource in Connecticut’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
At the end of 2015, UConn’s Technology Incubation Program was home to 26 startup companies, with several additional companies slated to join in the coming months. Incubator companies enjoy customized business education events, personalized mentoring, access to UConn’s world-class library resources, the opportunity to collaborate with scientific experts, and introductions to potential investors and industry leaders.
For more information about UConn’s Technology Incubation Program, contact TIP Associate Director, Natalie D’Oyen at natalie.d’firstname.lastname@example.org or (860) 486-1353.