Innovation Louisiana Advances Life Sciences While Showing a Glimpse of the Future

New Orleans BioInnovation Center’s Innovation Louisiana 2017 conference is shining the spotlight on advances made by the science and medical communities in the state.

Taking place over five days from November 5-10, the event will feature a day of community service, over 40 nationally recognized speakers, the final round of New Orleans BioInnovation Center’s BioChallenge featuring four finalists from the center’s pitch competition, a University tech showcase allowing colleges to exhibit projects they have been working on and a golf scramble wrapping up the event on November 10.

Since the inaugural Innovation Louisiana in 2013, the conference has expanded from three days to five and has doubled its attendance in four years. One of the days added in the fifth annual event this year includes a day of service which allows the professional field to give back to the up and coming scientists in the city.

New Orleans BioInnovation Center’s director of technology commercialization David Bode said the newly added day of service at The New Orleans Charter Science and Mathematics High School helps the organization build a connection in the community to help foster growth and support in the New Orleans young scientist community.

“Sci High was the perfect fit for volunteer work,” Bode said. “We added this to our schedule to get more engaged with the community, support students who might someday work in local startups, and create a fun and informal networking opportunity.”

Following the day of service is the two-day conference featuring 40 speakers from Louisiana as well as the rest of the country. These speakers include investors and experts from across the scientific field. Members of venture capital firms, federal agencies, major pharmaceutical companies and angel investors aim to share their expertise and experiences in the field. A full list of speakers can be found here.

On November 8, the Louisiana University Technology Showcase features universities across Louisiana and the discoveries they have made in science and medicine. These universities include Louisiana Tech, Louisiana State University, Tulane, LSU Health New Orleans, Xavier and other colleges.

“Universities will be displaying technologies across a broad range of industries,” Bode said. “Some highlights include possible new treatments for cancer, addiction,diabetes, Alzheimer’s and other diseases. There will also be technologies beyond healthcare including biodegradable plastics and engine exhaust sensors among other tech.”

Later that day, the finalists from the New Orleans BioInnovation Center’s BioChallenge pitch competition will compete for $50 thousand in prizes. Bode said the four finalists were chosen out of 20 eligible startups from around the state. Of the 20, only eight were chosen to move onto the next round where they pitched their companies and findings to an independent panel of judges.

“The four finalists presented the most polished pitches with a clear understanding of the markets they are entering and how to enter them, big potential upside and the possibility of having a major impact on transforming healthcare,” Bode said.

One of the finalist teams, Obatala Sciences, is excited to be presenting their Fat-on-a-Chip drug screening kit which aims to revolutionize drug screenings. Obatala Sciences team member Trivia Frazier said their product originated in an attempt to fix the dated models used today.

“Previous drug screening tools were heavily dependent on two-dimensional culturing of cells stuck to a plastic dish and mouse models,” Frazier said. “Translation to the human tissue response is severely lacking in these models, which is a contributing factor to the failure of many drugs and the loss of billions of dollars in research.”

Frazier said the experience and exposure from Innovation Louisiana 2017 has been invaluable so far, giving their spin-off company the awareness it needs and the opportunity to demonstrate skills to the biotechnology community.

Instapath is another finalist aims to increase the accuracy of biopsies and eliminate repeat procedures needed to verify accuracy. The company aims to achieve this by creating a whole picture of the biopsies at a subcellular level. This saves time, increases quality, helps remote patients receive accurate results on the first try and lets patients get treatment sooner.

Third finalist team Ready Responders created an application that combines GPS and telehealth services This gives a network of emergency medical technicians and health professionals all the information they need about patients as soon as a medical call happens. Their technology aims to reduce response times, get patients to effective treatment centers and cut down the cost of ambulance transports and overcrowded emergency rooms.

The fourth finalist RDNote is a digital health company that helps healthcare providers create customized treatments for patients with chronic illnesses in hospitals and in their own homes.

Bode said events like Innovation Louisiana are important to the science community because it creates a collaborative environment.

“Entrepreneurs can share experiences, offer mentorship, and help connect others to experts that support research and development,” Bode said. “A scientist isn’t trained on how to build and run a business. Other founders can provide advice and support, and local companies offer critical services that can help make sure a fledgling life sciences startup can succeed.”

Details and ticket information for Innovation Louisiana 2017 can be found here.

This article is brought to you by Ragusa Consulting and Pollo Con Leche, sponsors of the Silicon Bayou Startup Showcase. The Showcase will take place on November 15 at The Shop at the CAC.