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MIT 100K Launch Finals
Portable desalination, inclusive communication, home testing, and more!
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Anyway. Between graduation and some travel I’ve fallen behind posting the past few weeks, so today’s issue is admittedly a bit late. However, I still wanted to make sure to highlight the finalists from the $100K Launch competition a few weeks back. Better late than never, enjoy!
I’ve written Recaps about earlier stages of the $100K competition in the past. But for those who aren’t familiar, the MIT $100K competition is one of the most well known startup events at MIT. Founded in 1989, the competition includes past participants that have gone on to become really successful, including startups like HubSpot and Akamai.
The MIT 100K competition awards over $300K in non dilutive funding, and is split out across three distinct competitions: Pitch, Accelerate, and Launch. MIT $100K Launch is the grand finale of the three, where the winning team takes home the $100K prize. Regardless of winner, the event is famous for launching startup success stories — companies worth more than $16B in market cap have participated in $100K Launch.
Starting with the winning teams, and in no particular order following, below are the eight finalists from this years MIT $100K Launch Finals!
Winning first place and the grand prize of $100K was Non+ Desalination. They’re making portable desalination easy and sustainable. Developed in an MIT lab, their proprietary technology allows users to turn seawater into drinking water with nothing but the sun, at a production rate high enough to support a small group. Their product can provide clean drinking water off-grid for soldiers, boaters, and emergency preparedness enthusiasts with better portability, usability, reliability, and cost than incumbents.
What’s really exciting about this company is that the product is smaller, lower cost, and more energy efficient than incumbents in this space. This is because their technology allows them to desalinate water without the use of a high pressure pump. As a result, their device runs on less power than a cell phone charger.
The team plans to use their winnings to put their beta device in the hands of users. They plan to start selling to sailors as a means of getting early feedback, and then expand to customers in the global disaster relief space. (Nona+ Desalination)
In second place and winning $5,000 was Inclusive.ly. Inclusive.ly is a solution designed to help people, teams, and organizations create a more inclusive culture by starting with communication. The first enterprise language neutrality engine, their product uses AI and natural language processing to detect words and phrases that contain bias and can measure the level of bias or inclusivity of communication.
The Inclusive.ly is a plug-in that can be downloaded by individual employees, and will monitor emails and suggest ways to phrase communication in a more inclusive manner (e.g. “chairperson” versus “chairman”). Their technology goes beyond grammar to detect bias that competitors do not, such as aggression and condescension. (Inclusive.ly)
In third place, winning $5,000 was RT Microfluidics. RT Microfluidics is building an easy-to-use, home diagnostic platform that detects bacterial or viral pathogens in saliva and offers a DNA amplification molecular test's sensitivity and selectivity for the cost of a rapid antigen test. Since it is a platform technology, they have focused their first product on detecting Streptococcus pyogenes, the pathogen that causes strep throat. This is because in the US, there are over 50M strep tests conducted each year, despite only 36,000 cases of strep being confirmed positive.
RTMicrofluidics plans to capitalize on the growing home diagnostics market to make at home tests fast, accurate, and reliable.
Winning audience choice award, and $10k was Sparkle. In cancer surgery, surgeons attempt to remove the entire tumor to prevent a recurrence, but the current dye used to guide tumor surgeons is only accurate 70% of the time. As a result, patients are often discharged home without certainty that the entire tumor was removed.
Sparkle has a patent-pending dye technology that can light tumors up, making them easy for the surgeons to see and remove. This nanosensor technology was bioengineered at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University.
The next four finalists did an amazing job as well:
Astrahl leverages new technology to make X-ray imaging systems that provide more robust information about patients
Iridence designs sustainable biomaterials to make products our society needs. Their first product is Irica™, a biomaterial made from the same material found on our skin, to replace mica as staple in the cosmetics & paint industries
Mantel is developing the first high temperature liquid phase carbon capture material. They aim to remove CO2 from the atmosphere through bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). They estimate that molten borates and process changes increase thermal efficiency, reducing costs by more than 40%
Encreto Therapeutics is an organoid-based endocrine drug discovery platform using human GI stem cells coupled with high-throughput screening for inducers of enteroendocrine cell function. They’re initially targeting obesity and hoping to expand to type 2 diabetes and other diseases as well
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