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Culled from a pool of more than 280 high-quality submissions from 34 countries, 17 of the most innovative life science technologies are competing for a finalist spot in the Universal Biotech Innovation Prize. Only the two most innovative projects will earn funding and consulting services.

Now in its seventh year, Paris-based Universal Biotech, a division of Universal Media Group, launched the Innovation Prize to support the world’s most promising early-stage life science technology, specifically in the field of diagnostics, therapeutics and e-health.

Included on the roster of 17 semi finalists are four U.S. startups – LumaMed, Procyrion, Vault Nano and Woven Orthopedic Technologies.

LumaMed (Johns Creek, GA) provides high resolution, wide-field digital images that allow surgeons to visualize cancer during an operation. The ability to see the cancer in the operating room has enormous value in areas where tissue conservation is critical, such as in breast cancer where cancer is missed in 30 to 40% of all cases requiring a repeat surgery.

Procyrion (Houston, TX) is addressing heart failure with Aortix, a catheter-deployed micro-pump. Thinner than a #2 pencil, Aortix augments heart function by reducing afterload, allowing the heart to work at a sustainable level while perfusing vital organs. The powerful booster pump has the potential to replace high-risk surgical devices and lengthy hospital stays with a low-risk outpatient cardiology procedure, not only improving patient quality of life, but also benefiting hospitals and payers by cutting treatment costs and readmission rates.

Vault Nano (Beverly Hills, CA) is transforming the cancer immunotherapy space with its lead cancer drug, VNI-101. Vault targets the cancer by changing the paradigm from ex-vivo cell preparation to an in-vivo therapy by mimicking a lymph node signal to recruit the necessary immune cells directly into the cancer for a systemic anti-cancer response.

Woven Orthopedic Technologies (Manchester, CT) aims to solve poor screw engagement, the leading problem in the internal fixation market, by generating a completely different solution focused on improving the bone-to-screw interface, unlike current technologies, which only improve the hardware.

A prestigious jury panel of researchers, healthcare professionals, IP experts and investors selected the projects for scientific quality, potential for commercialization success, IP strategy and project feasibility.

“Being selected as a semi finalist catapults Procyrion and Aortix onto the world stage among other entrepreneurial companies and groundbreaking innovations,” said Benjamin A. Hertzog, Ph.D., CEO of Procyrion. “As we prepare to enter first-in-man trials, we’re excited about the potential impact of Aortix to improve patient quality of life and reduce the cost of care.”

Following its Innovation Prize win in 2014, Belgium-based iTeos Therapeutics signed a licensing agreement with Pfizer for the development and commercialization of iTeos’ IDO1 and TDO2 drug candidates.

The 2015 winners will be announced October 5 in Paris, France at Universal Biotech’s Innovation Days conference.

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