Success Stories: Current Companies
Saving Lives When Seconds Count: Advanced Cooling Therapy, LLC
In the moments following a heart attack, reducing the patient’s body temperature can make a lifesaving difference. But until now, methods used to induce therapeutic hypothermia have been difficult and costly, limiting the use of this important treatment.
Erik Kulstad, MD, MS and the team at Advanced Cooling Therapy, Inc. are working to change the odds for those who suffer cardiac arrest – more than half a million every year in the U.S. alone.
The technique will also help patients suffering from stroke, trauma or high fever. “In each of these situations, regulating body temperature is important to achieve good outcomes,” Kulstad notes.
ACT’s revolutionary method is fast, safe and requires no specialized training. “We’ve made it inexpensive and easy for emergency responders to use when seconds count,” says Kulstad.
Founded in 2009 by Kulstad and 2 others, the company now has 7 employees, including biomedical engineer Patrick Shanley, MS, who joined ACT after its move to University Technology Park in early 2012.
ACT recently closed its $1.5 million Series A funding round, setting the stage for a full commercial launch in key markets. European and Canadian authorities have granted regulatory clearance for the device, with FDA approval pending.
Working at UTP gave Kulstad and his staff access to crucial resources in the early stages of product development. “For example, when we had to test tensile strength in our prototypes to support a federal grant application, we were able to use IIT’s calibrated testing equipment for a modest fee, which even included hands-on assistance from a seasoned expert,” he says, adding that access to the same equipment in a commercial lab would have cost thousands more.
Being at UTP has also allowed ACT to grow in place. “We’ve leased space next door to our original labs to make room for product inventory,” Kulstad says, “which is great, because we can expand without the disruption of relocating.”
“Hosting meetings in UTP’s world-class setting also helps us make a strong impression with strategic partners,” says ACT Finance Director John Slump. “And we’ve been able to do this within the budget limits that all startups face. That’s an amazing advantage.”
CIRCUITS TO GUIDE AN AIRPLANE’S WINGS AND POWER ARTIFICIAL LIMBS: SIGENICS, INC.
Founded in 2000 by Illinois Institute of Technology faculty member Philip Troyk, PhD and partners, Sigenics creates custom integrated circuits for an impressive range of manufacturers -- from those who build passenger jets to others making “smart limbs” that can respond to commands from an amputee’s own muscles.
In March 2013 the company celebrated the success that prompted its recent move to larger space at University Technology Park, allowing engineers and chip makers to work more closely together. “Having the ideal configuration for each team member with all functions under one roof is a real advantage,” says Troyk.
The company has grown steadily since moving to UTP, retiring 100% of its startup debt in its first several years of operation. Company officials expect to fulfill orders for more than 150,000 custom integrated circuits for an expanding roster of clients by the end of 2013. “We now have 12 employees working here and in our second location in Sierra Madre, California,” Troyk reports.
Sigenics’ expertise in designing application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) that meet each customer’s unique needs has propelled the enterprise forward.
“We show customers that, by having custom ASICs inside their products, they can protect their intellectual property more effectively while reducing product size, power usage and assembly cost,” Troyk explains. “Since all manufacturers need to deliver the best possible performance and manage costs, these are critical benefits.”
ASICs made by the Sigenics team are also helping innovators launch bold new technologies with the power to transform lives. One example: a visual prosthesis that wirelessly sends video signals from an external camera to electrodes implanted in the brain’s visual cortex, creating the perception of light patterns the user experiences as images.
Sigenics’ involvement in such game-changing technologies reflects the company’s ability “to become part of the customer’s engineering team, starting with device specifications and maintaining close coordination through delivery of the new, tested ASIC devices,” Troyk says. “We can also deliver small quantities of the resulting circuits, making it easy for startups to work effectively with us.”
University Technology Park not only provided Sigenics with flexible space to support its growth, but also gave the company access to top talent on the IIT campus.
“We’ve hired many IIT graduates and students who’ve helped us expand our operations, and we look forward to continued growth in the years ahead,” Troyk says.