2004 Start-Up Challenge Awards and Finalists

Keynote speaker: David Oreck of Oreck Corporation

Optopo - First Place - $50,000

Optopo, has developed a new technology for computational optical sensor systems that significantly reduce the cost, size, weight, processing time, bandwidth requirements and power consumption for equipment such as spectrometers, cameras and positioning sensors, enabling ubiquitous use. The company’s first product is a high performance Raman spectrometer that for the first time moves spectrometers (used to determine composition and concentration) into real time process control, eliminating the need for sample control in industries such as Pharmaceuticals and hard disk drive manufacturing.

SonoTrak – Second Place - $15,000

SonoTrak has developed a technology that enables medical ultrasound operators to consistently perform invasive procedures in a safe and accurate manner. The SonoTrak system is a proprietary needle guide attachment that fits currently available ultrasound transducers, provides on-screen, realtime feedback, and allows a medical practitioner to target a needle directly to the site of interest, whether it is a blood vessel, tissue mass, or fluid collection. The SonoTrak system will reduce or completely eliminate the patient discomfort, operator dependency, medical complications, and incurred hospital liability inherent in current "free hand" needle guidance techniques used in over 6 million procedures annually.

J3 MedTech - Third Place - $10,000

J3 MedTech’s mission is to fill the void in cancer screening tests for malignancies such as melanoma, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, and pancreatic cancer. The company’s first product in development is a noninvasive ultrasonic screening test for malignant transformation of pigmented skin lesions (malignant melanoma). Additional products providing future growth opportunities include catheter devices using proprietary ultrasonic technology for analysis of hepatic masses or intraparenchymal brain masses or aneurysms, endoscopic devices for screening of esophageal metaplasia, and monoclonal antibody conjugated nanoparticle serving as mechanical contrast agents for ultrasound.


SameNET’s software platform and applications suite enables access to any Internet-based application through any GSM mobile telephone or connected device. SameNET software gives mobile users the same ability to view and manipulate Internet content as wired users. SameNET will target China’s rapidly growing mobile market – already the largest market population in the world – for initial rollout of its software and services. China’s mobile operators, Internet content providers, corporate enterprises and end users are all in need of the type of mobile data services that SameNET’s software platform enables.


Safegene, Inc. is the first company to develop a polymeric vehicle technology to dramatically improve the safety of delivering viral vectors into tumors ("gene therapy"). Safety problems in tumor gene therapy are primarily due to systemic dissemination of viral vectors utilized in delivering therapeutic DNA to target tumors. Safegene's product will markedly improve the ability of gene therapy companies to avoid these side effects and thus facilitate the FDA approval and commercialization processes. The same technology will eventually be utilized for viral vector therapy in a variety of disease states.