Exciting times are upon us. New frontiers are bursting wide open with astonishingly enticing ideas, many of which were introduced during GigTank’s Demo Day in Chattanooga. Eleven start-ups vied for the attention of some 100 venture capital firms with an estimated total backing of $200 million, all aimed toward supporting businesses that tickle their entrepreneurial fancy. This day-long annual event, Co. Lab’s third, attracted some 500 smart and eager folks, offering both questions and answers that could potentially grow into game-changers in a number of industries – from medicine to fashion.
“We’re all eating Ramen noodles,” joked Clay Posey, executive vice president of 3D Ops, one of seven start-up companies focusing on 3-D printing.
3D Ops closed in their efforts on enabling surgeons to perfect their skills on anatomical 3-D models of body parts – heart valves and brains, for instance – using them for practice before it’s time for the live show. This presents quite the leap forward, as presently surgeons mentally construct images into three dimensions and use that as their starting point, as pointed out by Daniel Hampton, Ops’ president and CEO.
“That can lead to misunderstanding, complications,” he added, “and it also takes longer – and time can mean life.”
Out of all the companies presenting at this year’s Demo Day, 3D Ops was looking for the highest backing amount: $2 million. Part of the reason may be the company’s “very serious conversation” with one local hospital, which they’ve declined to name, that is, according to them, keen on getting a pilot program in place. They’ll also be speaking with University of Miami Hospital later on in the summer, said Posey. It’s an exciting thought to foster, that such an idea could soon turn into palpable reality. Not to mention the potential benefits to those in need. All 11 teams that presented at the event received $15,000 in seed money, free housing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga , mentoring, and a free workspace to develop their best game plans. Some 65 companies wanted to be a part of the program, which started back in May.
According to Mike Bradshaw, president of Co. Lab and Gig Tank, last year’s event saw seven start-ups raise about $800,000 from investors. Here’s a peak into what the eleven start-up companies pitched to investors and experts at this year’s DemoDay:
• 3D Ops, Chattanooga: their 3D anatomical medical models present surgeons with an as-close-to-the-real-thing-as-possible option of planning procedures before operating on live patients.
• Cognitics, Chattanooga/San Francisco: They’ve developed a technology-driven method of applied analytics to treat patients with mental health conditions, including depression and PTSD.
• Feetz, Chattanooga: They focused their efforts on crafting custom-fit footwear, using a concoction of patented algorithms, photos and 3D printing.
• GridCure, Chattanooga/Toronto: Found a way to implement smart grids that improve security and reliability of power delivery by helping electric utilities assess large amounts of data.
• Lathon, Atlanta/San Diego: A source for affordable, dual-material desktop 3D printers.
• Nestegg Biotech, Huntsville, Ala.: A potentially phenomenal boost for the pharmaceutical industry, this company created non-toxic 3D scaffolding that can ease the expenses of bringing drugs to market.
• KORHealth, Chattanooga/Miami: Promotes a new cloud-based network to educate consumers on healthy life choices and care.
• Playorities, Miami: Adds to the longstanding fight against child obesity via a web-based interactive platform.
• SeamBot, Huntsville, Ala.: Puts automation technology to use toward customizing manufacturing of clothes and textiles.
• The Fab Cloud, Chattanooga/Asheville, N.C.: Presents an online network that promises to aid partners and customers, in the 3D printing industry, to connect and collaborate.
• TrakTek 3D, Knoxville: They design 3D machine replacement parts for construction, industrial and aviation equipment.
As you can see there were quite a few innovative new companies pitching their ideas to investors this week. It goes to show just how expansive the 3D printing industry has become. Discuss any of these eleven companies in the GigTank 3D printing forum thread on 3DPB.com.
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