School: Cornell University
Team members: Benjamin Rollins, Brian Lawrence, David Kaplan, Mark Rosenblatt, Thomas Steffie
Concept: Corneal injury blinds nearly 2 million people each year. Currently, the only treatment is cornea transplant, an expensive process with a long recovery time and significant failure rate. Bombyx is developing a low-cost corneal repair device intended to be worn like a contact lens.
Using processes derived from silk production, the device will stimulate corneal regrowth, theoretically restoring eyesight within weeks. Silk products for regenerating other types of body tissue are already FDA-approved.
"We have a product prototype, but medical prototype design is a very iterative process that will be ongoing for some time still," says CTO Brian Lawrence. Since the device will be small and have a long shelf life, Bombyx intends to offer reduced wholesale pricing to developing countries where corneal injury often goes untreated.
Timeline: Bombyx expects to have a perfected prototype by the end of 2011, at which point the regulatory approval process begins.
"The funding we gain from the competition will go directly towards the development of the business: employee compensation, general startup costs, and technology licensing fees," Lawrence says. "We have been approached by some investors, but we are still one to two years from major fundraising." -Rose Fox
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