California-based startup Neupro Inc. won $25,000 at the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN)’s Vector Showcase Day to continue developing its dual-use “lab-on-patch” blood test technology for solutions within the Department of Defense (DoD) and the commercial sector.
Neupro’s blood test saves lives and improves outcomes for warfighters and patients by drawing and analyzing blood in a real-time battlefield or emergency situations.
On the battlefield, there is often no medical specialist available during an improvised explosive device (IED) attack or other chaotic situation. When no specialist is available, the Neupro device saves lives by diagnosing the injured without drawing blood or waiting on test results from a lab to start treatment. This real-time capability to diagnose conditions such as traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can make the difference between life and death.
In a civilian environment, the portable device also helps emergency medical technicians (EMTs) diagnose heart attacks and administer life-saving care based on Neupro’s readily available diagnostics.
With the prize money, Neupro plans to prototype a self-applied patch with embedded sensors that can generate a diagnosis in real-time for anyone, regardless of training, to test for multiple issues without the need for a blood draw.
“In over a decade, we hope Neupro is a recognized leader in the development and commercialization of biosensor solutions with multi-analyte capabilities to address many acute and chronic medical conditions,” said Matt Coduti, co-founder of Neupro. “We also hope to inspire. When a kid is using our patch for blood diagnostics instead of an arterial blood draw, perhaps their doctor will tell them how awful it used to be when they had to use needles and that he/she too could launch a new technology in collaboration with the DoD, just like Neupro.”
Neupro and nine other teams of NSIN alumni joined the NSIN Vector program this year to accelerate their companies in the business fundamentals of creating dual-use ventures, and advance their companies in the likelihood of forming viable dual-use capacities.
In addition to completing the cohort’s venture curriculum, Neupro interviewed 42 potential partners from government agencies including the DoD and NASA, and commercial industry prospects. Through this process, emergency doctors and angel investors listened to those on the front lines and applied their feedback to Neupro’s business strategy.
“The most unique conversation we had during the Vector cohort was with one of the mock judges, a Regional Director at NSIN, which we connected with as we practiced our pitch,” added Coduti. “To our good fortune, our judge was familiar with the pain point we’re solving and gave us excellent information on how to pursue further discussions and related research within the DoD. She herself experienced TBI in the past so it was good to understand how our work might impact outcomes on the battlefield.”
Neupro connected with the Navy Research Laboratory (NRL) during an NSIN Foundry program in 2021. In Foundry, NRL sought to partner with a startup that could apply sensor technology to match NRL’s expertise and research in bio-recognition for issues like TBI. Neupro needed help navigating medical devices and regulatory opportunities. Still, the team had diverse experiences and education in biomolecular and healthcare technology to produce bio-sensor technology for NRL– it was a perfect match.
“After market research with NRL, we identified this as an area with an unmet need and a huge defense and commercial application,” said Tuan Dinh, co-founder of Neupro. “Our good relationship with the Naval Research Laboratory is the foundation of the business.”
Over the last two months, Vector teams worked closely with DoD and private sector experts to take their technologies from PowerPoint to partnership. At the start of the cohort, each team received exclusive access to alumni and industry networking events, learned to navigate the federal government ecosystem through a dual-use venture course curriculum, and tailored their business plans for military partners through open question and answer access to a program guide.
For the balance of the cohort, teams worked with mentors and potential clients to discuss real-case problems and their proposed solutions. Each team received feedback to refine their technology and go-to-market strategy to present a pitch deck on the last day of the cohort that showed how their company would add the most dual-use value for government and venture industries.
The 2022 NSIN Vector cohort ranged in technologies such as medical, cyber, computer vision, energy, additive manufacturing, and artificial intelligence. All Vector teams are alumni from NSIN’s Hacking for Defense (H4D), Maker, Foundry, Hacks, and X-Force programs.
While the other eight teams did not win the prize at the pitch competition, they still received valuable relationship connections and resources from DoD mission partners. Moreover, as part of the NSIN alumni network, they’ll continue to receive support from a community of military and commercial leaders who may be interested in working together on future projects.
“The competition was fierce this year,” said Andrew Oury, NSIN Vector Program Manager. “I wouldn’t be surprised if all of our participating teams become well known throughout the DoD.”
Watch the Vector Showcase Day below, and Neupro’s winning pitch at 00:48:45.
Vector Video Outline:
- (00:00:45) Introduction by Andrew Oury, NSIN Vector Program Manager
- (00:08:45) Introduction of Judges
- (00:11:25) Kupros, Inc. created a cost-effective, versatile, and efficient all-metal - copper filament for 3D-printed antennas and electronics.
- (00:24:10) OptoRelay, LLC developed the Dynamic Optical Energy Network (DynOEN): a laser-based-optical-energy-harvesting microgrid.
- (00:35:04) Traverse Operations Solutions developed cyber-defense hardware to help protect legacy platforms.
- (00:48:45) Neupro Inc.’s winning pitch for a “lab–on-patch” test.
- (01:01:25) Apagos Technologies designed a digital recall roster that automates and streamlines recall procedures.
- (01:12:30) ELVEE is an integrated insole and ankle movement system that provides insight into lower leg movements. Its user interface displays information in real-time to carefully track training history and its impacts on performance outcomes.
- (01:24:00) Cutting Edge AI created a platform for deep learning systems that makes full-motion video searchable by content, uses operator knowledge to teach itself, and stores highly compressed files on a video stream.
- (01:35:40) Skyline Nav AI Inc. created a tool to help navigate in a GPS-degraded, spoofed, or denied environment using visualization of the skyline.
- (01:47:15) Monolithium developed a completely solid, high temperature, nonflammable, fast, rechargeable lithium-battery technology.
- (Did not pitch) Mind Flux Medical developed a helmet-embedded bio-sensing device to test and collect quantitative data on mild traumatic brain injuries.
About NSIN The National Security Innovation Network is a program of the U.S. Department of Defense that collaborates with major universities and the venture community to develop solutions that drive national security innovation. We operate three portfolios of programs and services: National Service, Collaboration, and Acceleration. Together, these portfolios form a pipeline of activities and solutions that accelerate the pace of defense innovation.