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BIO’s Start-up Stadium—Springboard to Success

May 7, 2018
For those wondering if the Start-up Stadium at the BIO International Convention is worth it, they might consider the experience of Cellanyx, an early stage biomarker test maker who participated in 2017. According to Cellanyx CEO, Dr. Ashok Chander, the Start-up Stadium “…provided exposure and credibility to a new class of investors that may have not already been familiar with the technology and commercialization opportunity.”

Early stage biotech companies face many uphill challenges, not the least of which is where to find the right partners to help turn their promising technology into viable, commercial products. Several years ago, BIO created the Start-up Stadium at the BIO International Convention—the largest annual global gathering of biotechnology professionals. The idea was to provide a forum for a select group of early stage biotech companies—vetted and approved by subject matter experts—to engage with key stakeholders at the beginning of their life-cycle. Participants would engage in an interactive experience before seasoned judges from investment, venture philanthropy, economic development, academia and industry sectors.

Much like a reality TV show competition, the event creates a dynamic interplay between the contestants and judges. After delivering a six-minute pitch, the early-stage company receives feedback in real time from hand-picked judges and often continues the relationship beyond the initial meeting at the Convention. In the end, six winners are chosen from among the more than 40 finalists. Most of the start-ups find the experience to be beneficial and a few have agreed to share their stories with us.

This is the second in a series of blogs that highlight Start-up Stadium success stories.

Today we talked with 2017 participant, Ashok Chander, CEO of Cellanyx, about his Start-up Stadium experience.

[caption id="attachment_27997" align="alignleft" width="381"] Dr. Ashok Chander, CEO, Cellanyx[/caption]

BIOtechNOW (BTN): Can you tell us about your start-up?
Cellanyx has developed proprietary live tumor cell phenotypic biomarker tests to improve cancer risk-stratification and allow informed clinical decision making. The Company’s unique approach provides quantitative and actionable information based on analysis of thousands of live tumor cells. The Company’s tests employ a microfluidic platform combined with machine vision and machine learning approaches to analyze phenotypic morphological, biochemical and biophysical markers.

Cellanyx has demonstrated initial clinical proof-of-concept with its lead phenotypic test in prostate cancer. The initial clinical proof-of-concept study was conducted to demonstrate improved risk stratification in men with low and intermediate Gleason grade (6 and 7) disease and reduce the number of repeat biopsies.  Furthermore, analysis of “field” samples (away from the suspicious core) demonstrated the potential value of Cellanyx phenotypic test as it was able to analyze the tumor microenvironment conditions and predict expected adverse pathology from samples that were not taken from the suspicious core. These new findings from the Cellanyx prostate test are transformative as it will reduce the errors in diagnosing cancers early due to sampling heterogeneity of prostate biopsies.

BTN: Was the Start-Up Stadium platform able to assist you in gaining visibility?
Yes! The Start-Up Stadium was a great opportunity for us to transition from Seed to Series A investment and provide exposure and credibility to a new class of investors that may have not already been familiar with the technology and commercialization opportunity. Specifically, Cellanyx was able to expand its network of potential investors and commercialization partners.

BTN: Did you receive constructive live feedback at the Start-Up Stadium from stakeholders and subject matter experts?
The constructive feedback from the Start-Up Stadium was invaluable to test our messaging and presentation strategy as well as develop thoughtful responses to investor questions as the company evolved from a R&D / product development stage into accelerated growth and commercialization stage.

BTN: How have you implemented any feedback to achieve success and continued growth? 
Cellanyx was able to confirm and highlight the important milestones necessary for continued growth as well as relevant communication strategy important for continued financing and partnership activities.

BTN: Were your BIO One-on-One Partnering™ meetings successful? Did they generate valuable connections with potential for meaningful partnerships?
The BIO One-on-One Partnering meetings were HUGE!  This opportunity, in and of itself, enabled Cellanyx to take a momentous leap forward with respect to its commercialization strategy.  Cellanyx cannot over-emphasize the importance and value of the BIO One-on-One Partnering meetings.

BTN: Although no longer eligible to participate in the Start-Up Stadium, will you be returning the 2018 BIO International Convention in Boston?
Cellanyx will be there and we are excited to continue our conversations and start new ones!