May 30, 2009

An NU Start-Up Wins 2009 CBC Business Plan Competition

From Emily Ayshford, The McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science

VesselTek Biomedical, an innovative vascular products company started by Guillermo Ameer, associate professor of biomedical engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University, his former student Antonio Webb, and Melina Kibbe, assistant professor of surgery at the Feinberg School of Medicine, will receive a $10,000 prize for winning the annual competition, which invites graduate student teams from the three CBC schools — Northwestern, University of Chicago, and University of Illinois at Chicago — to submit biomedically relevant business plans in order to compete for the grand prize. This year, six teams competed.

VesselTek Biomedical started a year ago after Ameer realized that the biocompatible coating that promotes the safety and success of vascular repairs that he developed in his lab would need outside funding and support if it were ever to make it to market.

“Tony Webb did an excellent job presenting,” Ameer says, “and winning this competition validates the company’s goals. When it comes to raising funds, we hope it will open doors.”

Ameer says a synthetic graft with biocompatible coating that would reduce thrombosis and could be on the market within three years. A drug-eluting version, making artificial graft procedures as successful as those using natural vessels, will follow within the next five years.

The Chicago Biomedical Consortium (CBC), launched with a demonstration project in 2002 and a full granting program starting in 2006, aims to stimulate collaboration among scientists at Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Illinois at Chicago that will transform research at the frontiers of biomedicine. The Chicago Biomedical Consortium is supported by the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust.