Health Innovation Pitch Winner Makes Monitoring Blood Sugar Painless

The competition was part of the 2016 Healthcare Dealmakers Conference.

Socrates accepts a check after winning the inaugural Health Innovation Pitch Competition. (Quincy Preston/Dallas Innovates)
Socrates accepts a check after winning the inaugural Health Innovation Pitch Competition. (Quincy Preston/Dallas Innovates)

A Dallas startup that created a noninvasive blood glucose monitor landed the top prize at the Health Innovation Pitch Competition as part of the 2016 Healthcare Dealmakers Conference.

Socrates Health Solutions, founded in 2013, developed a sensor that clips on to the user’s ear and sends blood glucose readings to the user’s mobile device. The company is currently in its research and development phase, with plans to move into pivotal studies with California-based testing company NAMSA within the next 12 to 18 months. As the winner of the pitch contest Wednesday, Socrates received a $5,000 check from Dallas health tech accelerator Health Wildcatters and a legal services package from Polsinelli.

“The money is going to help us to continue to develop the product,” said Scott Smith, Socrates CEO. “That’s where all of our efforts are.”

The startup beat 14 other companies from North Texas and across the nation vying for the top prize. More than 100 startups applied for consideration. Audience members at the contest selected the top pitch.

Two companies tied as the runner-up: Dallas-based Noninvasix, which created a noninvasive way to monitor babies’ brain oxygen levels during delivery, and Austin’s EverlyWell, which developed at-home health test kits.

The competition was new to the conference this year.

“The early stage healthcare Series A, seed investor piece was missing,” said Hubert Zajicek, CEO of Health Wildcatters, adding that the conference is geared toward private equity investors versus venture capitalists or angel investors, who also attend the conference. “This brings the two groups together.”

For the past three years, the conference has brought in speakers and a few startups to serve as representation for the early stage companies. But with help from Zajicek, the conference broke from tradition and introduced the pitch contest during its ninth annual event. Now, the event is split into two days: The first focuses on early stage innovation and the second on private equity.

“The core premise is that innovation and M&A deals drive growth,” said Jonathan Henderson, Dallas managing partner at Polsinelli. “­This captures the two angles of how growth occurs.”

Socrates, which employs five people, has raised $3.5 million to date and is currently nearing the closure of its Series A round. It is a graduate of Health Wildcatters’ first class in 2013. Investors have included angels and institutions, including Dallas-based Green Park & Golf Ventures. About 90 percent of its funding came from North Texas investors, Smith said.

Smith and the inventor of the product, Valentin Korman, a former NASA scientist, have a family history of diabetes. Together they sought to develop a process that would simplify the self-monitoring process in a pain-free, accurate way.

Socrates was one of four North Texas startups invited to compete. Noninvasix, Flow MedTech, and Cariloop also pitched. Other competitors were Admetsys, Agewell Biometrics, Innovator Health, Iris Plans, Loren Medical Devices, MedZed, Pacient, teleCalm, and VaultMR.

 

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