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University Entrepreneurship Report, healthcare style: a look at Stanford, MIT, Harvard startups

12:08 pm by | 1 Comments

Because of their infrastructure, funding and staff, certain universities are much more likely than others to license technology and spin out startup companies. Last month, the University Entrepreneurship Report from CB Insights showed us just what kind of companies were being formed and led by alumni from six top universities, where those companies were and how much capital they were raising.

Stanford startups, not surprisingly, raised the most money between 2007 and 2011, with $4.1 billion. But UC Berkeley and MIT also saw significant funding for healthcare companies founded and led by their alumni.

Here’s a look at some of the most promising and fast-growing health-related startups these universities have cranked out in recent years, many of which have raised money in 2012. (The schools are listed in the order they were ranked in the report based on fundraising.)



According to the report, Stanford alumni pull in the most funding and deals. The university has a solid startup support system stemming from the student-led accelerator StartX and its healthcare counterpart, StartX Med, which launched last year.

StartX has given rise to the teletherapy startup Breakthrough, which raised almost $1 million in angel funding this summer, and the regenerative medicine company Bell Biosystems, which got some grant funding this year from The Thiel Foundation.

Most of the companies we’ve seen from StartX and StartX Med fall in the realm of digital health. Those include Gauss Surgical, which develops mobile technology to monitor real-time blood loss during surgery, teledermatology company DermLink and NuMedii, which uses data to match drugs with new disease applications.

University of Pennsylvania

Two University of Pennsylvania student-led online healthcare startups, AccessMD and 1DocWay, won $10,000 from the university’s Wharton Venture Award earlier this year. Other companies that licensed research from the university have also raised money this year, including biotech spinoff Axonia and predictive analytics firm RightCare Solutions. It’s also involved with Sixth Sense Healthcare Innovations in developing an iPhone app to monitor lung function.


The popular online community PatientsLikeMe, which raised $2 million this year and inked a deal with Merck, was founded by three MIT engineers. The institute has also spun out several biotech and medical device companies over the past several years, including universal flu Visterra, a vaccine company founded by an MIT professor, and MicroCHIPS, which is working on an implantable, high-tech drug delivery chip.


The technologies behind infectious disease vaccine developer Genocea Biosciences, which raised $30 million this year, and DNA sequencing company GnuBIO, which raised $10 million in capital, were developed at Harvard. Research by Harvard professors is also the foundation of OvaScience, a female infertility company that raised nearly $40 million this year.

We also learned recently about Allurion Technologies, a company founded by two former Harvard Medical School classmates developing an expandable device for weight loss.

University of California, Berkeley

Other branches of the University of California have also been prolific in spinning off healthcare companies, but this report focused on Berkeley. A UC Berkeley student is one of the brains behind the stealth mode startup that is crowdfunding research to map the human microbiome, and another is one of the founders of FitKit. An alumnus is also behind Fluxion Biosciences, which produces tools for cellular analyses.

The report also includes New York University, but I didn’t have much luck identifying medical companies licensing technology from here. (That’s not surprising as only 12 percent of the money raised by its spinoffs was raised in the healthcare sector.) Please share some in the comments.

[Photo from Harvard Medical School Office of Recruitment and Multicultural Affairs]


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Deanna Pogorelc

By Deanna Pogorelc MedCity News

Deanna Pogorelc is a Cleveland-based reporter who writes obsessively about life science startups across the country, looking to technology transfer offices, startup incubators and investment funds to see what’s next in healthcare. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ball State University and previously covered business and education for a northeast Indiana newspaper.
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