Startup Places in Pitch Competition

John CollinsNov. 20, 2017 - A startup company at Techportal/CALIT2 took second place in a “Shark Tank”-style pitch competition held last week at UCI Applied Innovation.

iCellVivo, a division of Biopico Systems Inc., won $700  − and important validation − from a team of expert judges for its new product. The company’s human multiorgan system for streamlining drug development is a microfluidic test system for drug discovery, toxicity testing, metabolite profiling and 3-D stem cell assays, which can potentially reduce the need for animal testing. The patent-pending, portable, six-well-based fluidic platform has an integrated functional assay to improve clinical predictability, says iCellVivo President and CEO John Collins.

Collins was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Biomedical Engineering from 2000-2006. He started Biopico Systems Inc. to manufacture cellular assay chip platforms. The company has been a tenant in CALIT2’s Tech Portal since 2013, spinning off iCellVivo to produce the multiorgan automated fluidic system. Company advisers include Abe Lee, professor and chair of the UCI biomedical engineering department; G.P. Li, professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences and CALIT2 director; and Anshu Agrawal, from the School of Medicine’s immunology division.

Six teams entered the Shark Tank competition, part of a medical device and life sciences mixer held at the campus’s Cove. Prizes were awarded by the Medical Device and Life Sciences Group of Tech Coast Angels.

“We have talked to several pharma customers to learn their unmet needs,” Collins said, “and in our solution, knew we needed to strike a balance between innovation and timely delivery for revenues. This award is a validation of our approach from investors, and we are confident about launching our product to the market next year.”

-Anna Lynn Spitzer