News Article

O2 RegenTech, a startup out of University of Akron, is making a name for itself
Date: Jun 26, 2015
Author: Zachary Woznak
Source: GLOBE NEWSWIRE ( click here to go to the source)

Featured firm in this article: O2 RegenTech LLC of Akron, OH

O2 RegenTech, a medical device startup out of the University of Akron, earned greater exposure and some kudos when it came in second place in a pitch competition at JumpStart's recent Startup Scaleup event.

O2 RegenTech principals Dr. Andreas Inmann and Dr. Nic Leipzig won $10,000 in the 12-team competition sponsored by JumpStart Inc. Hosted June 17 in Cleveland's Gordon Square Arts District, the daylong conference featured various events for local entrepreneurs, including speakers and networking sessions.

In the NEO Up-and-Comers Pitch Competition, O2 RegenTech had to give a five-minute pitch to a panel of judges made up of Northeast Ohio entrepreneurs. Each competing company was nominated by an area entrepreneurial organization. The University of Akron Research Foundation nominated O2 RegenTech, which also is a member of JumpStart's mentorship programs.

O2 RegenTech's good showing came from a pitch for its product OXAID, a dressing for the treatment of chronic wounds that Inmann and Leipzig hope to market to those suffering from diabetic foot ulcers. What sets OXAID apart from current hydrogel wound dressings, the makers said, is its patent-pending technology that combines moisture, oxygen and antimicrobial properties to more effectively heal wounds. The company's founders said that their technique is more cost-effective and allows for faster recovery than traditional chronic wound dressings.

Inmann said it will be about two years before OXAID can go to market, but when it does, the company hopes to produce it in Northeast Ohio. Now, O2 RegenTech is looking for funding to continue product trials and develop good manufacturing practices. Then it will apply for FDA approval for its product.

Leipzig, an associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Akron who has been with the university since 2009, developed the technology through his research and founded O2 RegenTech in July 2013. It wasn't until August 2014 that he connected with Inmann through Akron's Leading Entrepreneurial Academics into Practice (LEAP), an entrepreneurial matchmaking program that puts academics in touch with industry experts who mentor them through the process of commercializing their research.

LEAP, founded in 2014, granted $25,000 to Leipzig and his project in its first round of funding. Funded by the university, LEAP awarded a total of $145,000 to six projects in fall and $35,000 to two projects in its second funding round in spring.

Leipzig said that working with LEAP took some trial and error. He went through a few different entrepreneurs before finding Inmann, whom Leipzig said was willing to devote the time that O2 RegenTech needed.

Inmann has two decades of experience working with medical devices and previously served as director of product development for NDI Medical, a neurotechnology commercialization firm. His position as a consultant for entrepreneurs and medical device companies earned him recognition in Northeast Ohio entrepreneurial circles. Last summer, Dr. Gopal Nadkarni, who coordinates LEAP and its connections with industry experts, reached out to Inmann to mentor projects.

"That's something that not a lot of academics realize," Leipzig said. "Unless we're willing to quit our jobs, we can't be the ones who are entrepreneurs for our technologies."

Inmann originally had signed on only as a consultant through LEAP. But after working with Leipzig, Inmann recognized that the project had the potential to be successful commercially. He now serves as president and CEO; Leipzig is the company's chief technology officer

Nearly a year since the two principals teamed up, the focus is still on funding. Last month, O2 RegenTech was awarded $25,000 from the Great Lakes Innovation and Development Enterprise's Innovation Fund. A recent $50,000 grant from Ohio Third Frontier's Technology Validation and Start-up Fund helped to cover some of Leipzig's research costs.