Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Life Science Startups in Chile Get Commercialization Training and Mentoring

Members of winning team X'Plant and judges from the Life Science Challenge, from left to right: Anil Sadarangani, Bernardita Araya, Astrid Borgna, Constanza Jimenez, Ziyad Haidar, Elmer Torres, Patricia Dauelsberg, and Steve Kanzer
UC San Diego knows that start-ups and collaborations pave the way towards the future, so the UANDES Life Tech Challenge reflects a thriving partnership between UANDES, a private nonprofit university in Chile, and the von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center.  

Through the efforts of Anil Sandarangani, MBA graduate from UC San Diego, a thriving partnership between our university and the University de los Andes (UANDES) now exists.  UANDES is a private, non-profit university in Santiago, Chile renowned for research and innovation. Its business and engineering courses are taught completely in English.

The partnership, achieved through the von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center, was created to bridge the gap between idea formation and the start-up launch process through training and mentoring. Personalized tactics and mentorship create more successful technology companies and attract additional talent and resources to the life sciences industries in Chile.

Partnerships like these help to foster new inventions and creations, while encouraging cross-cultural learning and understanding from different cultures. von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center looks forward to continuing programs like these and expanding with other projects in the future, to promote global entrepreneurialism and cultivate the startup environment in the STEM field.

Winning team X'Plant from the Life Tech challenge, from left to right: Cesar Trigo, PhD; Constanza Jimenez, DDS; Ziyad Haidar, DDS; Paula Ibarra, PhD; Javier Campos .
von Liebig Mentor, Michael Krupp, PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Rochester, tied together his knowledge of life science and business to conduct a two-day seminar at UANDES on innovation and entrepreneurism in the life science industry. Dr. Krupp’s experience from serving as an executive at Pfizer and Chugai Pharma, as well as an advisor to several biotech startups, helped him captivate and educate the students. He watched as 12 teams made presentations on their startup companies in a wide range of life science technologies, such as biotech, healthcare, food technologies and medical therapies.  Dr. Krupp selected the top 6 teams that have the best chance for commercialization into the market.

The top six teams received mentorship from August through September from four von Liebig business and technology advisors with expertise in life sciences. The mentoring was essential in helping these teams stay on track through the commercialization process. On September 13 at the final pitch presentation, X’Plant was selected as the winner of the Life Tech Challenge. 

About the Teams

The X’PLANT team is led by a team of dentists.  The presentation was made by Constanza Jimenez, DDS.  As a practicing dentist, Dr. Jimenez and her colleagues have developed a set of tools for the non-invasive removal of failed dental implants. The team’s mentor is Garrett Smith, who holds a PhD in Bioengineering at UC San Diego, and is also a co-founder of three life-tech startups.

Maria Eliana Manquez, MD led the MD EyeCare team. As a practicing physician, Dr. Manquez has developed an online application for the early detection of eye disorders in children. John York, who holds a Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of Michigan and has his own biotech consulting company, is the mentor to this team.

Mentoring two teams in the medical diagnostics space, Richard Garber, PhD, has a degree in Biology from Yale and is currently a drug development consultant. One of the teams he mentors is Neurogos, led by CEO Alejandro Bisquertt. The team has developed a diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia using blood biomarkers.  The test provides key information for more effective treatment.

Dr. Garber also mentored Pregnostica, led by Alejandra Chapparro DDS.  As a dental surgeon and UANDES faculty member, Dr. Chapparro uses saliva biomarkers to predict gestational diabetes and preeclampsia early in pregnancy.
Green Biofactory, led by Daniela Fuentes PhD, develops proteins using algae to serve as a food supplement for pork. The team’s mentor is Karl Francis, PhD, holding a PhD in Bioengineering from UC San Diego and serving as Principal Scientist at Accriva Diagnostics.

Dr. Francis also mentored the Blood Vessels team led by Camila Wilkens, PhD. This team uses mesenchymal stem cells and biomaterials to create small blood vessels with the mechanical and biological properties of real blood vessels.    

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