April 26, 2024 - 10:10 am

Intero Biosystems wins the 2024 TCNewTech University Showdown 

By 20Fathoms

20Fathoms is pleased to announce that Intero Biosystems won both the grand prize and the audience choice award at the TCNewTech University Showdown on Apr. 23 at the City Opera House in Traverse City. As Grand Prize winner, Intero Biosystems received $5000 and a MiSpringBoard certificate for free legal services valued at $2500, plus they received the $500 audience choice prize.  

Charlie Childs and Madeline Eiken with Intero Biosystems won both the grand prize and the audience choice award at the TCNewTech University Showdown.

Pitches presented by five university-based companies

The TCNewTech University Showdown featured student-owned early-stage startups from Michigan universities. The selected pitch presenters pitched their healthcare technology startups which coincided with the rural healthcare innovation theme of this year’s Northern Michigan Startup Week.  

“All of the pitch presentations at the University Showdown were incredibly impressive,” said Eric Roberts, Executive Director of 20Fathoms. “The startups they’re launching – and the quality of the pitches themselves – were outstanding.” 

The winning pitch for Intero Biosystems was presented by Charlie Childs and Madeline Eiken, students from the University of Michigan. Intero Biosystems is a biotech company specializing in the creation of organoid platforms for drug discovery and development. Their product is a novel stem cell-derived Human Intestinal Organoid, the first of its kind to contain many functional cell and tissue types found in the native intestine, mimicking the human intestine “in a dish.”  

Second prize was awarded to MinaRosa, a women-led health biotech start-up that offers a portable and private light-therapy solution for urinary tract infections (UTIs) as a medication alternative to empower all people, especially women for whom antibiotics are ineffective, to take back control of their well-being. They intend to share their vision with customers through a physical device as well as an accompanying app offering education and community surrounding a problem that is often misunderstood and stigmatized. The MinaRosa pitch was presented by Jingjing (Lily) Li & Ana Timoficiuc, students at the University of Michigan.  

Lily Li & Ana Timoficiuc with MinaRosa present at the TCNewTech University where they won second prize.

In addition to Intero Biosystems and MinaRosa, three other companies pitched during the event:  

Dialysis Innovations – CORE (COnnecting REsearch), presented by Ethan Marshall with the University of Michigan. CORE is an innovative accessible, user-friendly software platform that democratizes clinical trials by promoting DEI using machine learning technologies which matches the participant with the clinical trial sponsor thus increasing recruitment and retention, resulting in more robust outcomes while significantly reducing cost.  

Reel Free, presented by Alex Pollock with Michigan State University. Reel Free is a medical device startup dedicated to revolutionizing oxygen therapy management for seniors and individuals with oxygen deficiencies. Their flagship product, the ReelMate Remote, offers a comprehensive solution designed to enhance safety, mobility, and independence for users of supplemental oxygen therapy. 

Vitamin Club, presented by Omomoemi Emmanuella Agbegha with Central Michigan University. Vitamin Club is a fusion of the nutrition and game industry that specializes in providing customized freshly prepared smoothies and meal plans to clients based on their health status, preferences and dietary needs while transforming their somewhat challenging journey for healthy living into an exciting quest through games. 

All-star moderators and judging panel

Shea Petaja and Dana Black served as event moderators, bringing high-energy and entertainment to this vibrant pitch competition.  

Shea has been coaching entrepreneurs on how to tell their story and translate their expertise into a solid brand and marketing campaign for over 15 years. She is the founder of The Inner/preneur Circle™️, as well as an improv performer, stand-up comedian, published writer, and podcaster.

Dana is a communications coach, public speaker, emcee, storyteller and professional SAG-AFTRA tv/film/voiceover actor. She is also a speaker delivery coach for TEDxChicago. Dana moved to Traverse City two years ago after living in Chicago for 20 years.

Shea Petaja and Dana Black moderated the TCNewTech University Showdown.

Pitch presentations were judged by the following panel of startup, technology, and healthcare experts:

  • Josh Delickta, VP of Operations at Thompson Surgical Instruments
  • Bill Palladino, Founder & Principal Consultant, Krios Consulting
  • Michael Saad, Chief Information Officer at Munson Healthcare
  • Shiloh Slomsky, CFO & Tribal Liaison at 20Fathoms
  • Jody Trietch, Partner and CFO at Boomerang Catapult, Executive Director at Northern Michigan Angels. 
The judges from left to right: Bill Palladino, Michael Saad, Jody Trietch, and Shiloh Slomsky. (Not pictured: Josh Delickta.)

Prize packages

Pitch presenters competed for the largest prizes in TCNewTech history, made possible by our generous Community Partners.

  • Grand prize: $5000 cash prize sponsored by Thompson Retractor, and MiSpringBoard certificate for free legal services from Varnum
  • Second prize: $2000 cash prize sponsored by MSUFCU, and MiSpringBoard certificate for free legal services from Varnum
  • Audience favorite: $500 cash prize sponsored by Aurora Patents

In addition to the Prize Sponsors, we’d also like to recognize our Event Show sponsors and other supporters: Intent IP, Tom’s Food Markets, Munson Healthcare, Grand Valley State University, and Interlochen Public Radio.

All pitch presenters also received free day passes to the 20Fathoms coworking space.

TCNewTech University Showdown pitch presenters from left to right: Ethan Marshall (Dialysis Innovations – CORE), Austin Pollock and Alex Pollock (Reel Free), Charlie Childs and Madeline Eiken (Intero Biosystems), Lily Li and Ana Timoficiuc (MinaRosa), and Omomoemi Emmanuella Agbegha (Vitamin Club).

Startup Expo

The TCNewTech University Showdown also featured a Startup Expo where attendees could visit with the following local startup service providers:

Flightpath Creative was one of the businesses showcasing their services in the Startup Expo.

What’s next for TCNewTech

Save the date for our next pitch competition on July 23!

“TCNewTech is the soul of the Grand Traverse startup community,” said Eric Roberts. “It’s made possible by the generous support of donors, sponsors, and community partners.”

In addition to providing entrepreneurs an opportunity to pitch at TCNewTech events, 20Fathoms provides wrap-around startup support services including pitch coaching, mentorship, connections to funding and professional service providers, and additional educational programming.

You can help through a donation, sponsorship, or mentorship that helps to uplift, diversify, and strengthen our entrepreneurial ecosystem for generations to come.

For more information about how to get involved, including pitch opportunities, complete the TCNewTech interest form

TCNewTech supporters can also donate online or contact us to learn about sponsorship opportunities.