Astraeus Technologies, a startup that is creating a simple, noninvasive lung cancer screening test, took home the Robert P. Goldberg $100,000 grand prize after beating out seven teams of finalists during the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) $100K Entrepreneurship Competition’s Launch Finale held on the MIT campus.
A panel of judges made up of venture capitalists and industry professionals said they chose Astraeus Technologies based on the strength of their technology, business plan, pitch and team composition.
According to the World Health Organization, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. More than 9 million Americans were recommended for screening last year alone. Astraeus Technologies’ solution–the patent-pending L-CARD–is a simple gas sensor that will detect gases unique to the exhaled breath of patients with lung cancer. This noninvasive screening test, which can be read wirelessly by a smartphone, provides diagnostic information in seconds, can be produced for less than one dollar, and it can be shipped anywhere in the world inside an envelope.
Astraeus Technologies is composed of four students who came together in November 2015:
- Joseph Azzarelli: PhD, Chemistry, MIT
- Alexander Blair: MD, Harvard Medical School
- Graham Lierberman: MD, Harvard Medical School; MBA, Harvard Business School
- Jay Kumar, MD, Harvard Medical School; MBA, Harvard Business School
The L-CARD is based on technology co-invented by Azzarelli in the laboratory of Timothy Swager, the John D. MacArthur Professor in the Department of Chemistry at MIT.
Since its debut in 1990 as the MIT $10K Entrepreneurship Competition, it has grown to include three independent contests – Pitch, Accelerate and Launch – from September through May. Each contest focuses on developing specific founding skills. For each semi-finalist contender, the MIT $100K brings together a network of resources that includes mentorship from venture capitalists, serial entrepreneurs, corporate executives and attorneys; media exposure; prototyping funds; business plan feedback; and discounted services. Altogether, more than $300K in non-dilutive prize money is awarded to help these new ventures accelerate.