Medical Device Startup Founded by CALS Alum Takes Prize in Entrepreneur Challenge

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Nasseo, Inc., a medical device startup co-founded by Garrett Cale Smith, an alumnus of the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, took first place earlier this year at the UC San Diego Entrepreneur Challenge.

Entries at the UC San Diego Entrepreneur Challenge included technologies to cure cancer, brain-computer interfaces for patients without speech, an automated portfolio management system, sensor assisted orthopedic surgery, garbage compactors, and an enhanced dental implant.

The competition, which boasted a record number of applications in 2012, aims to recognize inspiring startups. More than 300 students, faculty, investors, professionals and entrepreneurs attended the event as a panel of judges from San Diego's business and technology communities determined who would take home $100,000 in funding and advisory services in the sixth annual UC San Diego Entrepreneur Challenge.

In the end, medical technologies ruled the day.

First prize, with $57,000 in cash and services, went to Nasseo, Inc., a medical device startup that has developed novel technologies to treat dental/orthopedic implant failures. Implant failures are not only inconvenient and time-consuming, but can be uncomfortable and expensive for patients to endure. Nasseo's first product is a dental implant system that utilizes a surface modification technology to provide a stronger bone-to-implant bonding. The technology was primarily developed in the lab of Sungho Jin, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of California, San Diego.

Nasseo is led by Garrett Smith (co-founder, CEO) and Kayvon Pourmirzaie (co-founder, COO). Smith holds a Bachelor of Science in biosystems engineering from the University of Arizona, a doctorate in bioengineering from UC San Diego, and is an alumnus of the Stanford Biodesign Fellowship program.

By creating a dental implant system, Nasseo hopes to create new treatment options for previously unreached patient populations.

Smith said, "Nasseo's dental implant system product is focused on two things: bringing smarter implant technology to market and reaching an untapped patient demographic in need of technological advancements. We are thrilled to be recognized by these esteemed judges in the business community, and it reaffirms our strategy to bring our technology to the patients who need it most."

Second prize went to SONRGY for its focused ultrasound enabled nanocarriers designed to improve the effectiveness of cancer therapy by reducing administered dose and toxic side effects through 3D spatial selectivity.

Uroboros Technologies LLC won third prize. Uroboros Technologies is dedicated to producing the next generation of cancer therapeutics with a technology which produces DNA nanoparticles that act like tiny octopi trained to grab onto and kill cancer cells but not healthy cells.

The UC San Diego Entrepreneur Challenge is a non-profit organization founded by students with the mission of educating, connecting, and funding aspiring student entrepreneurs at UC San Diego and neighboring research institutes. In its six years of existence, the Entrepreneur Challenge has raised and awarded over $500,000 in prizes to enterprising students and researchers. Many of these startups have continued to grow and have raised significant venture funding.