Rubitection turns to the crowd for funding help - Center for Technology Transfer and Enterprise Creation - Carnegie Mellon University

Monday, January 28, 2013

Rubitection turns to the crowd for funding help

Another Pittsburgh entrepreneur is taking to the crowd to look for funding, but this time, it’s for a much more capital-intensive endeavor: A medical device startup.

Compared to software startups, life sciences companies can take a longer time frame and more capital to get off the ground. It’s just this paradigm that has Sanna Gaspard embarking on a fundraising campaign for her company Rubitection Inc. on the website Indiegogo.

Gaspard is looking to raise $250,000 so she can continue to develop a medical device that can detect early signs of pressure ulcers. Funding a company trying to solve the problem of pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores, isn’t as sexy a proposition as funding a hot new game or photo app. But it’s a problem that has real consequences. Pressure ulcers affect 2.5 million people in the U.S. annually and kills around 60,000 each year, according to the team at Rubitection.

So far, Gaspard, who started working on this project while a doctoral student in biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, has created a lab prototype of the system. But to secure funding to take the device forward, she needs a clinical prototype. To get the clinical prototype, she still needs funding.

It’s a vicious circle.

To get funding she needs the smaller prototype, but to develop that she needs the funding.

“I started this company because I thought this technology could really impact care,” she said. “I thought if I graduate and leave it there (at CMU), I didn’t think it would leave the university or get picked up or make it into health care where it could really impact care.”

The device, called The Rubitect Assessment System, is meant to help caregivers find bedsores early in a quantitative way, as opposed to today’s visual inspection techniques. The device uses a specific type of spectroscopy that uses light to inspect tissue. The device shines light on skin and analyses the light reflected back, measuring changes in tissue properties and assessing the health of the tissue, Gaspard said.

Pressure ulcers typically hit immobile patients. According to the company, preventable bedsores cost the healthcare system $11 billion in 2006.

Gaspard, who we first saw at the 3Rivers Venture Fair back in 2011, has been developing the technology since then and working out of office space in StartUptown and the Project Olympus Offices at CMU.

She knew it would be difficult to raise money. After some early-stage funding fell through, she is now considering taking the company outside of Pittsburgh. She opted to start the company here in order to build on the network she was starting to build as a student plus the lower cost of living is more conducive, she said.

Gaspard has about $25,000 in funding from the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse and she is in the processing of working with other economic development groups.

Article courtesy of Pittsburgh Business Times