October 18-20 | Tucson, AZ

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Tulane Announces Winners of $50k ‘Demo Day’ Pitch Competition 

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October 18-20, 2023 / Tucson, AZ
The annual summit for research institution gap fund and accelerator programs, including proof of concept programs, startup accelerators, and university venture funds

The Story

The Tulane University Innovation Institute has announced the winners of its March 14 Demo Day pitch competition. The event showcased the work of 10 startups that the Tulane Innovation Institute had previously supported through the Green Wave Innovation Network Mentorship program, educational webinars, previous pitch competitions, or other Tulane University programming from the Albert Lepage Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation or the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking.

The event spotlighted groundbreaking startups based in the New Orleans area using innovation to find solutions to the region and world’s problems.

Claiming the first-place prize of $25,000 is Informuta. This healthcare company aims to revolutionize infectious disease detection and enable precision medicine through AI/ML-driven next-generation sequencing (NGS) data analytics. Informuta’s vision aligns with addressing a pressing public health issue, where antibiotic resistance results in deaths and significant direct medical costs. Informuta was previously awarded additional grants from the Tulane Innovation Institute, including $50k from the Provost’s Proof of Concept Fund and $2.5k from Open MIC (Medical Innovation Challenge) Night in March 2023. Tulane School of Medicine student and PhD trainee Kalen Hall and Tulane Alumni of the Bioinnovation PhD Program Leo Williams founded the company. Informuta also receives GWIN mentoring from Jura Zibas, Larry England, and Dean Teffer.

In second place, EquallHealth secured $15,000 in funding. With software designed to streamline the health insurance appeal process through AI, EquallHealth addresses a critical administrative burden contributing to provider burnout and patient harm. It was co-founded by Tulane Medical and School of Public Health student Claire Romaine, who has received GWIN mentoring support from Leslie Evans.

Cantaloupe AI captured the third-place spot, earning $10,000. As a service and hospitality industry recruiting app, Cantaloupe AI tackles the challenges of high turnover and job dissatisfaction. Its streamlined hiring process promises to reduce costs and improve satisfaction for hospitality industry applicants and recruiters. It was founded by Tulane A.B. Freemen School of Business alumni Rich Simmerman and Connor Gleason and their business partners Joshua Anderson and Lane Degenhardt.

Additionally, TUGS, founded by Howard Moore, received an honorable mention and a $5,000 prize for its innovative household topical solutions to reduce the discomfort caused by braiding and styling thick, curly hair. Tugs has received GWIN mentoring support from Harris Jones, Jeff Goldman, and Steve Ralff.

Before the contest, The Tulane Innovation Institute engaged Aaron Foss, a member of the Hofstra University faculty, to work with the 10 finalists on their pitch decks and presentations.

“We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to award this funding to four local startups dedicated to starting innovative businesses in our community,” said Kimberly Gramm, the David and Marion Mussafer chief innovation and entrepreneurship officer at Tulane. “The Tulane Innovation Institute offers support, resources, and services to not only members of the Tulane community but also emerging startups in our city.”

This event demonstrated The Tulane Innovation Institute’s commitment to fostering an ecosystem of access and resources to boost entrepreneurship and the creation of successful businesses in our city and region.


Full story: Tulane Announces Winners of $50k ‘Demo Day’ Pitch Competition – Biz New Orleans

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