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LifeScience Tennessee Venture Forum taps four startups
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LIFESCIENCE Tennessee announced Sept. 23, 2015, that four companies have been selected to present at the fourth-annual Venture Forum held at Life Science Tennessee's Annual Conference, beginning today.

The conference will host more than 35 speakers and panelists presenting topics and issues important to life science professionals from the medical device, diagnostic, pharmaceutical and agricultural innovation industries. More information on the conference can be found at the LifeScience Tennessee website.

These four Venture Forum companies will present to a panel of judges on Tuesday, September 29 at 2 p.m. at the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Nashville. The company with the best pitch will win a $5,000 prize.

Selected companies include:

  • FIRST Diagnostics, which has made a fluorescent dye called Corafix that enables health care providers to improve early detection of colorectal cancer during an endoscopy.
  • VenoStent, which is working with promising technology to create a new type of stent that can improve treatment for patients suffering from renal failure.
  • SeqTech, which has developed a novel technology for detecting biomarkers.
  • Stony Creek Colors, which is developing the complete agricultural supply chain to replace synthetic dyes with cleaner and safer bio-based dyes, allowing fashion brands to meet their goals of reducing hazardous chemical use.

The cash prize is courtesy of Waller Landsen Dortch & Davis, LLP. Life Science Tennessee Venture Forum is part of the Life Science TN Annual Conference, which brings together top industry executives in Nashville. More than 200 executives representing the life science industry across Tennessee will be present at the conference, which will feature leading life science decision makers, thought leaders and legislative supporters of the industry in two full days of keynote speakers, industry subsector breakout panels and the Venture Forum.

During the event, Life Science TN members will network with industry professionals both inside and outside the state on issues such as support for start-ups and finding capital, state and federal policy issues for the industry, and revolutionary technologies that are disrupting the delivery of care. Speaker highlights from the conference include:

Katherine Donigan, Ph.D. from the FDA's Office of In-Vitro Diagnostics at the Center for Device and Radiological Health. Dr. Donigan has been instrumental in the development the FDA's new guidance document for laboratory-developed tests.

Karen Summar, M.D., M.S., A pediatrician by trade, Dr. Summar is the health care policy advisor for Congressman Martha Blackburn. In her role, Dr. Summar advices Congressman Blackburn in her position as vice-chairman of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, the House committee that oversees the FDA and HHS.

Steve Hoey is the senior director of the Springboard program at CONNECT in San Diego. Springboard is the model program for Life Science TN's new Statewide Mentor Network.

A focus for Life Science TN in 2015 is the introduction of the organization's Statewide Mentor Network, a program designed to bring top industry experience to life science start-ups across Tennessee. The Network was created in partnership with LaunchTN and the state's existing accelerator network.

"Life Science Tennessee's new Statewide Mentor Network is well on its way toward bridging the gap between new entrepreneurs in the field and the expertise of Tennessee's life science business leaders, while complementing the work of our state's accelerator programs," said Steve Bares, PhD, Chairman of the Life Science Tennessee Board of Directors.

The goal of the program is to build a strong statewide mentor pool that includes life science experts across a broad spectrum of industry sectors. As of now, about 30 mentors are actively participating in the program, which connects them to up-and-coming life science entrepreneurs.

Life Science Tennessee's Mentor Network was formed in response to a 2014 joint study, completed by Baker Donelson and Life Science Tennessee, that identified major barriers for the industry. Along with access to capital, workforce development and other hurdles, Tennesseans in the life sciences identified a lack of mentorship as a major issue. More information on the Statewide Mentor Network can be found at the LifeScience Tennessee website.

Life Science Tennessee is a statewide, non-profit, member organization representing all organizations involved in the life sciences in Tennessee, from leading research institutions to early stage companies, to international Fortune 500 medical device and pharmaceutical businesses to advisors for the industry. Together with our stakeholders and policy makers, we diligently work to create a greater understanding of, and support for, the life sciences thereby helping to create an environment in which this industry can flourish in Tennessee. LifeSciTN members and life sciences companies are located in all nine geographical regions of Tennessee and include industry subsectors: biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, diagnostics, agricultural biosciences, research and educational institutions, clinical research organizations and other related activities. [###]

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Tags: Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell Berkowitz, Corafix, FDA, First Diagnostics, Karen Summar, Katherine Donigan, Life Science Tennessee, mentors, SeqTech, Springboard, Steve Bares, Steve Hoey, Stony Creek Colors, VenoStent, Waller Lansden Dortch Davis

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