West Virginia University School of Medicine alumni and LaunchLab Network clients will use $25,000 in startup funding from the AlphaLab Gear accelerator program for early-stage startups to help drive down maintenance costs and increase productivity in laboratories.
SwifTAG Systems was founded by School of Medicine alumni Dr. Zachary Wright, Dr. Brandon Lucke-Wold and Nachiket Pendse, along with the Statler College of Engineering’s Daryl Reynolds while they were students at WVU. The company creates products that marry high technology and medical research to create an integrated animal monitoring system that reduces the burden of managing lab mice.
SwifTAG earned the startup funding as part of a competition to gain entry into the AlphaLab Gear accelerator program for early-stage hardware startups. In addition to the funding, the company was chosen to join the AlphaLab Gear Incubator beginning April 8.
Once there, SwifTAG’s founders will be guided through a 30-week program with the goal of reaching production faster by providing funding, office space, education sessions, connections to customers and mentorship from industry experts.
“We are thrilled that SwifTAG Systems has found so much success in such a short period of time,” said Assistant Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Carrie White. “Dr. Wright and his team walked through the WVU LaunchLab’s door four years ago with an idea to solve a problem in the laboratory. By utilizing the tools and resources of the LaunchLab and IDEA Hub, they have successfully advanced their idea into a commercialized business.
“This is a great example of how WVU’s vast array of resources and support can churn out success stories. There’s no doubt that this team will continue to grow and expand their business once they complete the AlphaLab Gear program. We look forward to seeing SwifTAG Systems thrive and prosper in the years to come.”
Wright and Lucke-Wold completed the School of Medicine’s M.D./Ph.D. Scholars Training Program which prepares high-achieving students for careers that combine clinical practice with investigations of the mechanisms of disease.
“Brandon and Zachary were productive scholars who developed critical thinking skills and a spirit of innovation while in the program,” Al Berrebi, interim director of the program, said. “Their company was conceived from their experiences with laboratory animal management and built on the strength of their entrepreneurial mindsets. These physician-scientists are uniquely qualified to advance the fields of healthcare and the biomedical research enterprise.”
AlphaLab Gear guides early-stage physical product companies through customer discovery, prototyping, legal and accounting, business model development, product iteration, early manufacturing and customer traction. The incubator also offers an optional eight-week session focusing on manufacturing at scale, covering topics such as design for manufacturing, tooling, regulatory, quality control, vendor negotiations, inventory management/fulfillment, and connections to manufacturers and supply chains.
Operating since 2014, West Virginia University’s LaunchLab Network serves as a comprehensive, one-stop shop to help students develop and commercialize their ideas, innovations, inventions or business models. In a motivating and supportive environment, the LaunchLab Network is an applied innovation center offers hands-on idea development support, education, mentorship, prototyping facilities, resources and connections to empower entrepreneurs across West Virginia.
The LaunchLab Network is part of the WVU Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship Applied Ecosystem, a university-wide web of centers, offices and programs that fosters and supports innovation and entrepreneurship among WVU students, faculty and staff while engaging the statewide community.
Other areas include IDEA Faculty Fellows, WVU Women’s Business Center, Davis Young Innovators program, WVU Extension Service, Brickstreet Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Patent and Trademark Resource Center, Health Sciences Innovation Center, Legal Clinics, Media Innovation Center, Manufacturing Extension Partnership, the MakerLab and Technology Transfer.
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