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Biotech firm wins record TechOut prize

New Hampshire Union Leader

November 15. 2017 10:02PM
Sylvie Breton and Jean-Francois Carbonneau, of Kantum Diagnostics, chat with guests at TechOut 2017 at Oracle Dyn in Manchester on Wednesday. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — A biotech company developing ways to prevent and treat acute kidney injury is the winner of the 2017 TechOut competition, capturing a record $200,000 first-place prize.

Kantum Diagnostics Inc. beat out five other finalists in the program, in which entrepreneurs compete for investment capital awards.

“Years of looking through a microscope have paid off finally,” said professor Sylvie Breton, co-founder and CSO of Kantum.

Datanomix, which offers a “fog” computing solution that helps simplify and accelerate how companies extract value from machine-generated data, placed second. The company will receive a $100,000 prize.

The winners were determined by a panel of judges comprised of New Hampshire business experts, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

Kantum Diagnostics is developing a “diagnostic and therapeutic combination” to prevent and treat acute kidney injury (AKI), according to Breton.

AKI is a common medical complication that affects 4 million people and kills 300,000 people each year in the United States. It is often referred to as a “silent killer” because it has no visible symptoms.

“Doctors are stuck with an old model that tells the doctor the kidneys have failed two days ago,” said Breton. “We found a key driver for AKI. We can detect the compound in patients in places like an ICU. We can see this marker was elevated 24 hours prior to the kidney failure. Now we have an early diagnostic marker.”

Greg McHale, founder of Datanomix, talks with business leaders during Tech Out 2017 held at Oracle Dyn in Manchester on Wednesday. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

Kantum provides doctors with new diagnostics and treatments, which Breton hopes can eventually be used to prevent AKI.

“Thank you New Hampshire,” said Jean-Francois Carbonneau, CEO and co-founder of Kantum. “Thank you for being such a beautiful state, and a beautiful people. This prize will help make AKI a thing of the past.”

TechOut finalists were chosen by the New Hampshire High Tech Council, which identifies entrepreneurs with plans to develop and market new technology products. This year’s investment funding for the award tripled, thanks to the Millworks II Fund, a partnership among 40 Granite State investors and the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority.

“Companies go through a rigorous process to get to this point, including a pitch camp to perfect their presentations,” said Matt Cookson, executive director of the New Hampshire High Technology Council. “Often, companies evolve significantly throughout the process, which is both satisfying and interesting to watch. We are honored to be a part of each company’s journey, and it is our pleasure to be able to assist them in their continued journeys towards success.”

“This was certainly the best group we’ve had,” said Gray Chynoweth of ARMI and Millworks II.

Jean-Francois Carbonneau, founder and CEO, with his wife co-founder Dr. Sylvie Breton during Tech Out 2017 held at Oracle Dyn in Manchester on Wednesday. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

The jump in funding awarded to the top two entrepreneurs helped attract the largest pool of applications the program has ever received in its six-year history, the council said.

Rounding out this year’s field of six finalists are:

• TargetRNA, presented by founder, president and CSO Gene Petrella, is a biotechnology company that discovers and develops small molecule drugs that act directly on disease-causing RNA.

• Canopus Water Technologies Inc., presented by founder and CEO Souheil Benzerrouk, is a developer and manufacturer of nonchemical, water disinfection products for residential, industrial and commercial applications.

• EDACS — which stands for education access and support — will be presented by CSO and co-founder Angela Addison. EDACS is a cloud-based application designed to help schools from kindergarten through college manage learning accommodations and increase retention for special education students.

• Performology, presented by CEO and founder Dr. Bilal Jordan, is a software-as-a-service application that allows organizations to increase their sales performance by inspiring and motivating employees to exceed company goals.

“Two biotech companies on stage at TechOut — that’s a first,” said Cookson.

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