FedEx Institute of Technology and Epicenter Launch Two More Science-Based Startups, Building on the Entrepreneurial Landscape in Memphis

April 15, 2021 — PopCheck Technologies Inc. and MakeScope are the most recent startups to come out of The University of Memphis FedEx Institute of Technology and Epicenter’s joint Patents2Products (P2P) Program. The partnership’s first startup, Nuvelus, was announced in October, and additional companies will launch over the next year as part of the partners’ initiative to support and cultivate innovative and deep science commercial opportunities in the Memphis business community.

PopCheck Technologies Inc., named for its emphasis on the post-operative evaluation, is an early-stage medical device startup. The company’s mission is to create technology based on models of exceptional, safe, effective, equitable and accessible care which enables patients to recover from surgical procedures stress-free. Its method employs AI-enabled remote biosensors to monitor for and detect suspicious patterns in key biomarkers of a patient’s state postoperatively. This facilitates the prediction of surgical complications, such as blood clots, early in their development, often before expensive diagnostics or treatments are required. As such, the innovative technology has the potential to prevent readmissions and unplanned healthcare visits, as well as lower associated costs of diagnosis and treatment of complications while improving overall patient outcomes. The company aims to lead the medical device industry in postoperative care and monitoring as a reliable extension of the healthcare team in both the inpatient and outpatient settings.

“As a Memphis native who trained in our local academic institutions, founding PopCheck serves as a testament of what we as a community can achieve by taking advantage of the many resources the Memphis entrepreneurial ecosystem provides,” said founder Erika Dillard, MD, PhD. “One lesson the ongoing pandemic has taught us is that we cannot just survive but actually thrive with less costly and less invasive healthcare strategies. With heightened attention in addressing healthcare disparities, we will soon realize how very essential remote technologies will be in meeting patients where they are and emphasizing the importance of access despite geographic and socioeconomic barriers.”

MakeScope is a company working on portable super-resolution fluorescence microscopes that better diagnose certain diseases. Fluorescence microscopes have been the gold standard to diagnose malaria, a disease that continues to cause an estimated 229 million clinical episodes and 409,000 deaths per year. However, the resolution limit and the general design of the existing fluorescence microscopes put a limit on the accuracy of the diagnosis and oftentimes a well-trained technician is required to have an accurate diagnosis of malaria. MakeScope has a patented super-resolution microscope to shatter the resolution limit of existing fluorescence microscopes, hence improving the accuracy of certain disease diagnosis/infection, including malaria, urinary tract infection and tuberculosis, to name just a few. MakeScope is working on making their patented microscope portable so it is easier to carry, transport and use.

Dr. Cong Van, the founder of MakeScope, came to Memphis two years ago to work on this super-resolution microscope in the University of Memphis' Computational Imaging Research Laboratory (CIRL) with Dr. Chrysanthe Preza, one of the inventors of the super-resolution microscope. Seeing the commercial potential of this microscope, Van joined Patents2Products in 2020. With the help of the University of Memphis and Epicenter during the past year, he found a potential application of this microscope in certain disease diagnosis and founded MakeScope.

The University of Memphis and Epicenter partnered to build the P2P Program to bring post-doc fellows to Memphis to start businesses utilizing patented intellectual property developed both in Memphis and across the United States. The program, which creates two-year funded positions for research entrepreneurs, provides the fellows with necessary tools for launching a successful startup.

“What we set out to accomplish with Patents2Products has been true: intentionally connecting University intellectual property and resources with the broader Memphis entrepreneurial ecosystem can significantly accelerate tech startup creation, which is critical to our region’s economic growth,” said Jan Bouten, Chief Investment Officer, Epicenter, and Partner at Innova. Bouten also co-founded the ZeroTo510 Medical Device Accelerator. “The benefits of investing in a partnership like Patents2Products are not just that it creates high-growth-potential startups – it also provides additional career pathways in Memphis for post-docs like Drs. Dillard and Van.”

“The innovations driven either by unmet clinical needs in the case of Dr. Dillard, or recent technologies in the case of Dr. Van, are expected to deliver practical and helpful solutions to the healthcare/research communities via entrepreneurship enabled by the Patents2Products Postdoctoral Fellowship Program,” stated Dr. Hai Trieu, Director of UofM Technology Commercialization. “We are proud of the progress to date by Dr. Dillard of PopCheck and Dr. Van of MakeScope and look forward to see clinical and research applications of their products in the future.”

Click here for more information on PopCheck Technologies, connect with them on LinkedIn or follow on Twitter. For more information on MakeScope, contact Van at cvan@memphis.edu or connect with them on LinkedIn

For information on this partnership, contact Mary Ann Dawson at mdawson@memphis.edu or Jessica Taveau at jessica@epicentermemphis.org