School: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Core team members: Etta Pisano, DJ Connor, Zhong Zhong, Christopher Parham
2nd place winner
Concept: Standard X-ray two-dimensional imaging delivers a significant amount of radiation to the patient. Even a single X-ray exposure may contribute to cancer and affect fetal development. NextRay is developing a relatively inexpensive imaging machine that uses a new type of 2D imaging, Diffraction Enhanced Imaging (DEI), which produces highly detailed images, can image soft tissues, and exposes the patient to less than 1% of the radiation dosage of X-ray machines.
"The NextRay team is coming to Rice fresh off of a win at the Carolina Challenge, where it took home the $15,000 first prize award for the commercial track," says interim COO John Lerch. "[The co-founders] have built a prototype DEI device using an off-the-shelf X-ray tube and detector. Previously, the scientific community was skeptical that DEI images could be produced without the use of a large synchrotron facility, which costs hundreds of millions to billions of dollars to build."
Timeline: The company plans to acquire funding and a manufacturing partner within the next two years, hold clinical trials in year three, and launch full-scale production and distribution in year four.
It hopes for an acquisition soon after. "We have primarily been speaking with angel investors, and our discussions have been very positive and encouraging to date," Lerch says. "For the most part they are continuing to look at deals and perform due diligence. Of course, we won't be able to say anything for sure until we have money in the bank." -Rose Fox
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