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Straight Outta Wisconsin, LynxBio Wins EvoNexus Best Demo Vote

Xconomy San Diego — 

A startup team from the University of Wisconsin that moved to San Diego in January to advance their technology for optimizing treatment regimens for cancer patients won the audience vote for best pitch at the EvoNexus Spring Demo Day last week.

Lynx Biosciences founder and CEO Chorom Pak said her startup has developed microfluidic technology that uses live cancer cells to determine how multiple myeloma patients would respond to different treatment regimens. The Wednesday evening pitch event drew several hundred people to an auditorium at Qualcomm’s (NASDAQ: QCOM) corporate headquarters in San Diego.

Pak told the audience the microfluidic device can keep biopsied cancer cells alive for three days in a simulated natural environment that enables scientists to measure their behavior and response to multiple drug combinations. Pak said she has funded development of the technology through $4.3 million in non-dilutive research grants, and LynxBio is now in the process of raising $1.25 million in seed funding.

The startup has been admitted to both the EvoNexus technology incubator and the JLABS innovation program for life sciences startups in San Diego.

A cancer biologist, Pak received her doctorate from UW-Madison in 2013. Pak said she developed the core technology for LynxBio with professor David Beebe, a pioneer in microfluidics and a LynxBio director and scientific advisor.

LynxBio CEO Chorom Pak (Xconomy photo by BVBigelow)

The EvoNexus incubator, founded in 2009, has become the home for many of San Diego’s most ambitious technology startups. In an effort to move to a more sustainable business model, the incubator that was once free to startups has begun to ask for a small equity stake from each company admitted to its facility.

Here is a quick recap of the other presentations at the event:

Axalume, a specialist in “silicon photonics,” is developing technologies to address bottlenecks within data centers and high-performance networks that bog down connectivity and response time. In his presentation, founding CEO Ashok Krishnamoorthy said, “For every bit sent to a data center, there are five bits generated within the data center.” Axalume, Krishnamoorthy said, has “the ability to take big, power-hungry switches, and convert them into chips”—energy efficient, high-speed, silicon-based optical chipsets. After raising $1 million in seed funding, Krishnamoorthy said Axalume is now raising a Series A round.

DoWhop founder and CEO Rae Lietzau, a former U.S. Marine Corps captain, described DoWhop as “a marketplace for doing”—an online peer-to-peer market that connects people who want to meet in small groups for such adventures as aircraft rides, sailing, and musical performances. On one side of the online market are people offering experiences like a ride in a hot-air balloon, and on the other are people willing to pay it. DoWhop is currently raising $1.2 million in early stage funding, Lietzau said.

Evasyst co-founder and CEO Justin Weissberg said the startup has been building an all-in-one online platform for gamers and e-sports enthusiasts. Evasyst’s online dashboard combines social media, online chat, and a marketplace that enables users to watch their friends play, buy and sell digital goods, and recruit others to play games. The startup has raised $880,000 of a planned $1.8 million funding round.

MemComputing has focused on developing high-performance computing technology that accelerates so-called “optimization problems,” such as the most-efficient route a sales person should take to visit 50 different cities. With technology that unifies memory and processing components of conventional computers, MemComputing says its proprietary “self-organizing logic gates” rapidly accelerate solutions for optimization problems.

Founding CEO John Beane told the audience he is currently not raising capital for MemComputing, but he wants to talk to anyone who can introduce him to Elon Musk, the CEO at SpaceX and Tesla, or Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

SimpleForms has developed software-as-a-service that targets corporate human resources departments with pre-formatted forms that enable employees to easily fill out, submit, and save common employment forms. Founder and CEO Emily Rotolo said SimpleForms has raised about $400,000 of a planned $600,000 round.

USYNO founding CEO Jimmy Wu said his startup has created an online marketplace for exchanging currency in a “fast, cheap, and secure” way. The company is initially focused on currency exchange between the United States and China, but Wu told the EvoNexus audience, “We are a matchmaker instead of a money dealer.”

VRAY founder and CEO Elan Mevasse has developed a business-to-business payment platform for making secure payments for online purchases and other transactions. The technology enables bio authentication by sending a notification message to the buyer’s smartphone that is capable of reading a thumbprint. “We’re selling directly to payment processors,” Mevasse said. After raising $500,000, VRAY is seeking $1.1 million in additional funding.