VentureWell to Fund UMaine Student-Led Biotech Startup

December 13, 2017

7:15 am

VentureWell, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that supports science and technology entrepreneurs, has selected a medical simulation startup founded by University of Maine students to receive funding and training.

The company, Zephyrus Simulation LLC, was spun off from a product developed by a group of bioengineering students at UMaine. The product began as a $500 prototype of a mannequin with a diaphragm that mimics natural breathing patterns, as well as hyperventilation and obstructed breathing patterns. Its job is to help train medical professionals to diagnose and respond to critical respiratory situations, according to Patrick Breeding, a bioengineering major at UMaine and CEO of the company.

Patrick Breeding, CEO and cofounder of Zephyrus Simulation, stands with Renee Kelly of UMaine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation

Breeding and his cofounders will receive a $5,000 grant from VentureWell to help build the company. The funding comes from VentureWell’s E-Team Student Grant Program.

E-Teams receive grants of up to $25,000 and get training through an early-stage innovator training program that provides peer networking, expert coaching, national recognition, and hands-on workshops to move innovations forward.

“It is an honor to be selected for the VentureWell program,” Breeding said in a statement. “The E-Team program will undoubtedly help us bring our venture to the next level.”

VentureWell’s winter 2018 cohort includes 10 teams will each receive a $5,000 Stage 1 grant, and eight teams will each receive a $20,000 Stage 2 grant. The teams will attend three-day workshops in Boston. Stage 1 E-Teams will focus on discovering the best market for their inventions, while Stage 2 E-Teams will work to develop and validate their business models.

The E-Team Grant Program targets students with an idea or invention that could potentially solve a real-world, social need. Over the past 20 years, more than 700 grants have been given through VentureWell to help teams move ideas out of the lab and into the market.

“The Zephyrus team is showing how you can take an idea you have as a student and turn it into a product which can go out into the world and start to help people,” says Caitlin Howell, a UMaine biomedical engineering professor and the team’s adviser.

The students’ project won the undergraduate Innovation Award at UMaine’s 2017 Student Symposium and, in October, Zephyrus Simulation won $500 in the local BigGig pitch event.

Zephyrus Simulation is pursuing a patent for its prototype, and also has received grants from the Libra Future Fund and Maine Technology Institute.

Read about more emerging startups in the Maine ecosystem on TechCo 

The post VentureWell selects UMaine students’ startup for funding, accelerator appeared first on Maine Startups Insider.


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Whit Richardson is a former daily newspaper journalist in Portland, Maine, who has covered business and entrepreneurship for the past decade. He's founder of Maine Startups Insider and currently editor-in-chief of 4Front Publishing, an online news startup covering the nascent legal cannabis industry.