Here’s Why VC Judges Chose These 4 Startups as INVEST Pitch Perfect Winners

A group of 24 novel startups were selected to pitch at MedCity News’ INVEST conference in Chicago. Here’s four that VC judges chose as the winners in their respective tracks.

At the annual INVEST conference in Chicago that ended last week, four companies were found to be a cut above the rest in a pitch competition that featured 22 novel startups in four tracks ( 2 were unable to pitch because personal or flight-related emergencies).

Each company pitched for four minutes and engaged with a Q&A with judges who are active venture capitalists. The winners were:

Biopharma track featuring oncology startups: miRecule
Devices/Diagnostics track featuring cardiology startups: CoraVie Medical
Healthtech Payer/Provider track featuring startups addressing burnout and operational efficiency: Samaritan
Healthtech Consumer/Employer featuring startups addressing women’s health: Mother’s Milk is Best.

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Here’s more about each company and the judges’ reactions:

miRecule s a biotech company developing RNA therapies for cancer and muscular dystrophy. The company’s approach to drug design uses genomic patient data to create highly tailored therapeutics designed to help patients live a life free from the debilitating symptoms of their disorders. The proprietary DREAmiRa platform utilizes genomic and outcome data from thousands of patients to identify underlying genetic changes that cause their disease. It creates a novel RNA therapeutic that can directly target and fix that genetic abnormality. miRecule is currently applying the platform to develop first-in-class therapies, with lead programs in Head & Neck Cancer and Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy.

“While all of the companies were impressive, miRecule stood out due to their pioneering work in RNA therapeutics and their track record of developing innovative treatments that address unmet medical needs,” said Nancy Sullivan, CEO and managing director of Illinois Ventures, in an email. “Their experienced leadership team and strategic partnerships with top research institutions and pharmaceutical companies enhance their ability to bring new therapies to market efficiently.”   

CoraVie Medical
CoraVie Medical is a pre-revenue medical device company developing an implantable continuous blood pressure monitor
and end-to-end remote management solution monitors for early detection of dangerous blood pressure levels to intervene and prevent a hypertension crisis that could lead to stroke, heart attack, kidney failure or death. CoraVie addresses patient monitoring fatigue, measurement technique errors, and patient awareness challenges to offer physicians clinically actionable insights.

“Hypertension is known as “the silent killer,” said Lewis Kilongo, principal, Unorthodox Ventures, in an email. “Accurate continuous monitoring of blood pressure trends is crucial since it would enable early detection of uncontrolled rising blood pressure levels and timely intervention before hypertension leads to serious complications, such as stroke, heart attack, kidney failure or death. I think CoraVie should allow physicians to optimize the treatment regimen by making necessary adjustments in a timely fashion, based on reliable information.”

Samaritan helps individuals who want to aid homeless people and others in need by directing their social and financial
capital to meet housing and health goals. The company seeks to help people become self-sufficient. It offers memberships
through which members get a smart wallet, then share goals, needs, and action steps. Members then gain social and
financial support to meet needs and guidance to reach goals. Members are not required to have a phone, email, bank access, or legal documentation to participate.

“Samaritan is tackling a complicated, but imperative problem to solve engagement and health coordination for some of the most unengaged patients in the country,” said Jane Rho, director, Fund and AI, DaVita Ventures, in an email. “We were impressed by the passion and effectiveness demonstrated by the model so far. Samaritan is well poised to make an impact- we are excited to see how this model can scale, change behavior in a lasting way, and engage its members.” 

Mother’s Milk is Best
The mission of Mother’s Milk is Best is to bring more of the benefits of the mother’s own milk to pre-term babies. To that end, the
company is developing a point-of-care human milk concentration device that is designed to increase the ability to
use the mother’s own milk instead of other fortification processes.

“We chose Mother’s Milk is Best mainly because of the clinical validation from the team that sees the issue daily and the simplicty of the solution,” said Samir Batra, managing partner, HIP (Health Innovation Pitch).

Photo: Getty Images, Oat_Phawat