Pasadena, California, Tech and Life Science Startups Get the Once Over at First Look SoCal Forum

First Look SoCal Forum TrialsiteN

Donna Balancia, for Pasadena Business Now, reports some of the most forward-thinking life science technological creations will be presented at the First Look SoCal Showcase on Wednesday.

“Most of the innovation revolves around life sciences,” said Andy Wilson, executive director of the Alliance for Southern California Innovation, “from among 30 innovations more than 20 focus on life sciences.”

The annual conference shows off the best early-stage teams commercializing deep technology and life science breakthroughs from SoCal’s research institutions.

“We solicit the top institutions to bring us the startup teams who are looking to commercialize the discoveries born in the labs,” said Steve Gilison, head of programs and operations for the Alliance for Southern California Innovation. ”These are often professors or post-docs or other people who have identified a market opportunity to commercialize the technology their institution has created. They’re looking to push the discovery to the market.”

The program will introduce quick-pitch presentations from 30 teams, and each presentation is followed by audience Q and A. There will also be a private meet-and-greet space for investors and teams to connect during the event. The innovations are advanced, and the terminology and platforms are unfamiliar to many.

“A lot of them are healthcare-oriented, both therapeutics and diagnostic technologies,” Wilson said. “That shouldn’t be too surprising when you think about it. When you’re a research institute you rely heavily on grant funding. The largest single grantor is the NIH, so it’s cause and effect, they’re funding health-oriented breakthrough innovations.”

Among the new developments are

  • A gene delivery platform to unlock the potential of gene therapeutics related to the new field of “personalized” medicine.
  • A company that has new tools for MRIs to detect Alzheimer’s Disease
  • A novel technology for micro-targeting of therapeutics
  • A nanotech company that is building strong structures out of microparticles
  • A smart sensor company for laboratories and surgical centers to track devices, assets and people through data networks

But there’s one project that fans of Shark Tank may be familiar with. It’s called Basepaws, and it’s a DNA testing kit for your cat. Basepaws received a $250,000 investment on the ABC investment show for its at-home feline DNA test CatKit. The show aired April 28. The real-life investors on the show, Robert Herjavec and Kevin O’Leary, agreed to an investment, with each contributing $125,000 in exchange for 5 percent ownership share each.

“It took us six months to prep for the whole thing,” said Anna Skaya, CEO and Founder of Basepaws. “If I was nervous all of it stopped. The ‘Sharks’ were there and they were smiling, everyone was so nice to us, all the nervousness disappeared.”

Skaya said the company is still growing the company with new developments related to DNA extraction and swabbing the inside of the cat’s mouth.

It’s one of many technology products coming out of the Southern California region and the area is growing. Alliance for Southern California Innovation changed the name of the event from First Look LA to First Look SoCal Showcase this year.

“It’s very appropriate that this conference is happening here, given our heritage in Pasadena for breakthrough technologies coming out of Caltech and JPL,” Wilson said. “The Alliance is focused on celebrating the deep tech and extreme innovation that is a hallmark of Southern California. This event is one of many things we do to draw attention to the breakthrough science that happens here in Southern California. We encourage people who are interested to check it out and learn more about the other things we do across Southern California throughout the course of the year.”

An investor panel discussion and networking cocktail reception to follow presentations. For more information, email [email protected].

The cost ranges from $25.00 to $50.00. The event is sponsored by the Alliance for Southern California Innovation and Innovate Pasadena. The event will be at the Pasadena Convention Center, 300 East Green Street.  Follow the link to Pasadena Business Now to register.