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“Connect 3.0” Names San Diego’s Most Innovative Products of 2014

Xconomy San Diego — 

A security startup that detects anomalous cyber behavior and a life sciences company that makes 3D liver tissue for use in drug toxicity testing were among eight San Diego companies that won engraved Lucite trophies last night for the most innovative products of 2014.

The awards were handed out by Connect, the San Diego nonprofit organization that supports local innovation and entrepreneurship. It was the first time Connect has handed out its most innovative product awards at dinner since the event began in 1988.

“After 26 luncheons, this is the first time they’ve let you celebrate at night,” joked Maureen Cavanaugh, a San Diego broadcaster who served as master of ceremonies for the evening. The annual awards were conceived as a way to highlight the technical wizardry in new products introduced by San Diego companies over the previous 18 months. More than 600 people attended last night’s event at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla hotel.

Greg McKee

Greg McKee

The break from the luncheon tradition was one sign that a new CEO is now running the show at Connect. Greg McKee, a former biopharmaceutical executive and financier was recruited to take over Connect nine months ago, following the untimely death of Duane Roth in a bicycling accident in 2013.

In a brief introduction, McKee put his own mark on the Connect franchise—referring to the venerable organization as “Connect 3.0,” and describing it as “a business accelerator that creates and scales great companies in the technology and life sciences sectors.” He invited innovators and entrepreneurs in the hotel ballroom to “bring me your best ideas, and let us take this journey together.”

For this year’s new product awards, local companies submitted 102 products for consideration. Finalists were selected in eight categories. The categories and winner are:

Aerospace and Security Technologies: CyberFlow Analytics for FlowScape—security technology that monitors the “Internet of Things,” using big data analytics and machine learning to detect anomalous, high-risk cyber threats across machine-to-machine networks.

Communications and IT: Cubic Transportation Systems for its NextBus fleet management technology. The application enables both passengers and public transit managers to access real-time data about public transit operations, including the estimated arrival time of the next bus at any given bus stop in a transit district’s service area.

Illustration shows how 3D samples of bio-printed cells are used in assay.

Organovo illustration shows how 3D samples of bio-printed cells are used in assay.

Diagnostics and Research Tools: Organovo, for “exVive3D Liver Model”—functional 3D samples of human liver tissue that are created using Organovo’s proprietary 3D bioprinting technology. The company recently introduced the product for commercial use by pharmaceutical companies in preclinical drug discovery programs.

Pharmaceutical Drugs and Medical Devices: Topera, which moved to Menlo Park, CA, before it was acquired by Abbott in October, was recognized for developing its 3D mapping system, used by cardiologists to map and pinpoint the origins of atrial fibrillation, a common heart arrhythmia.

Mobile Apps: Rock My World, for RockMyRun, a smartphone app that takes biometric data from smartphones and fitness wearable devices, and adjusts the user’s workout music to match.

Software: CloudBeds, which began as Onde Ficar, is a Web-based software system for hotels, enabling small and medium hotels to optimize room prices and availability, and to provide online booking services and back-office management services for the hospitality industry.

Electrozyme display at Connect MIP event

Electrozyme display at Connect MIP event

Sport & Active Lifestyle Technologies: Electrozyme for developing a wireless body sensor to monitor whether the user is well-hydrated by measuring the electrolytes in sweat. The wearable sensor helps athletes answer three key questions: When is it time to rehydrate? What to rehydrate with? How much to rehydrate?

Sustainability category: Solatube International for Solatube SkyVault, a modular skylight that uses fresnel lenses to optimize residential solar lighting.

Connect also honored San Diego philanthropist T. Denny Sanford with its Distinguished Contribution Award for Life Sciences Innovation, and Robert S. Sullivan, founding dean of UC San Diego Rady School of Management, with the Distinguished Contribution Award for Technology Innovation.

The two awards are intended to honor individuals in San Diego who, through business activities and community involvement, have encouraged innovation, diversity of thought, and the advancement of local entrepreneurs.