Ann Arbor Startup aims to improve cancer diagnostics with the main prize from the SPARK Bootcamp
HeloGenika, an Ann Arbor-based precision genomics startup focused on cancer diagnostics, has won the $ 25,000 Best of Boot Camp award Ann Arbor SPARKis every six months Entrepreneur boot camp.
Culturewell won $ 10,000 in runner-up, and Imagine Chat received $ 1,000 thanks to a sponsorship from UHY. Culturewell helps healthcare companies identify which germs are growing in their environment and helps reduce infections through subscription-based technology and laboratory service. Imagine Chat is an app that helps children ages 3 to 7 develop emotional and social intelligence by engaging users in long-term relationships with characters that grow with them.
“We are very honored to have been selected from among some other really outstanding companies,” says Snehal Patel, founder of HeloGenika. “It was a very surprising win.”
Patel signed up for the bootcamp to capitalize on the mission of the intense multi-week program – to help entrepreneurs evaluate the feasibility of their business concept, build a successful business model, and discover their customer base.
“At the start of the bootcamp, someone said something about $ 25,000 in prize money, but it was so incredible to me that I thought I got it wrong, or maybe they were going to say $ 2,500,” he says. “In the end, I completely forgot about the money because I was so focused on learning everything I could.”
Patel’s team of three plans to use the money to offset the costs of filing a patent and to form two strategic partnerships. The funds will also help develop HeloGenika’s technology to assist pathologists in diagnosing cancer.
One of the technologies will interpret genetic data from the analysis of cancer samples from a patient, which can then be used to inform the patient’s treatment. Another of the company’s technology is a robotics-based invention that isolates the portion of the tumor that is collected in a larger sample.
“When an organ is removed, the tumor is only part of that organ,” says Patel. “This is the part that needs to be analyzed and HeloGenika’s technology can help with that.”
He explains that both technologies will help pathologists and doctors do their jobs more efficiently. They also reduce patient report turnaround time, which can take up to three weeks on average.
“We believe our company could help get the information out to doctors a week faster, which means doctors can help their patients get appropriate treatment faster,” says Patel. “That’s a huge impact on over a million cancer patients each year in the United States.”
Jaishree Drepaul’s brother is a freelance writer and editor and currently resides in Ann Arbor. She can be reached at [email protected].
Photo courtesy Ann Arbor SPARK.