The future is now

5 Houston medical device companies changing the industry

As medicine and technology both advance, these Houston startups are at the forefront of the industry. Getty Images

With the Texas Medical Center at the heart of Houston, health advancement opportunities are endless. Medical breakthroughs are happening across town, but as technology advances, the industry is seeing more and more startups popping up to take new tech tools and applying them to traditional medical devices and procedures.

These five Houston startups are developing the future of the industry — one device at a time.

Portable Therapeutix

For years, Squid Compression has helped ease the pain of patients in doctor's offices. Now, anyone can get the treatment on the go. Photo via squidgo.com

The country is currently in an opiod crisis, and one solution is making pain-relieving devices more accessible to patients. That's what Houston-based startup Portable Therapeutix LLC is trying to do with its drug-free solution to pain called Squid Go. The portable device is designed to ease the pain and swelling of sore joints and muscles using cold therapy and compression therapy. It's a follow-up to the company's Squid Compression, a pain management device launched in 2013 for patients at rehabilitation centers, hospitals, doctor's offices, and the like.

To reap the benefits of Squid Go, a consumer uses the device for just 15 minutes. Squid Go — which combines a cold gel pack with proprietary compression technology — features special air pockets that inflate and deflate, gently massaging the body part needing treatment. That massaging boosts circulation and reduces swelling.

"Increased circulation brings more nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood to the area, promoting recovery," says Sam Stolbun, co-founder of Portable Therapeutix. "Meanwhile, [the] gentle compression also drives the pain-relieving cold from the gel pack deeper into the tissues to alleviate soreness and discomfort." Read more about Squid Go here.

Zibrio

Balancing is important throughout your life, and Zibrio has the tools and tips for you to use to stay centered. Pexels

From NASA to your bathroom floor — Katharine Forth has found a new way to track balance. With her company, Zibrio, people can have the everyday ability to figure out how balanced they are.

"The machines typically used for balance measurement can be as large as a telephone booth, so we invented a new way to measure postural control using a much smaller mechanism that fit inside a moon boot," Forth says.

Zibrio is a health company that aims to be the gold standard of measuring balance. The Zibrio scale calculates users' weight like a typical scale and rates their balance on scale of 1 to 10.

The scale gathers data from your weight, your postural control, your muscles and other factors to calculate the rating. Andrea Case-Rogers, chief experience officer at Zibrio, describes a perfect rating of 10 as elusive for most, or "Simone Biles on a good day." Read more about Zibrio here.

Saranas Inc.

Saranas Inc. is testing its technology that can detect and track internal bleeding complications. Getty Images

A Houston-based medical device startup is on a twofold mission to reduce healthcare costs and improve the safety of complex medical procedures involving blood vessels. Saranas Inc. currently in clinical trials for its Early Bird Bleed Monitoring System, which is designed to detect and track bleeding complications related to endovascular procedures. If all goes well, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will approve Early Bird in 2019, Syed says. Then, the device would be made widely available to medical facilities across the country.

"What attracted me to Saranas is that our solution has the potential to meaningfully reduce serious bleeding complications that worsen clinical outcomes and drive up healthcare costs," says Zaffer Syed, president and CEO of Saranas. "In addition, our device may support access of important minimally invasive cardiac procedures by allowing them to be performed more safely."

Dr. Mehdi Razavi, a cardiologist with the Texas Heart Institute at Houston's Texas Medical Center, invented the device. It's being tested by the institute and other medical facilities in the U.S. As many as 100 patients will participate in the clinical trial, which is expected to last several months. Read more about Saranas and the Early Bird here.

EllieGrid

Courtesy of EllieGrid

Talking the right vitamins and medications at the right times shouldn't seem like more trouble than it's worth. Houston-based EllieGrid is a smart pill box that is easy to organize and stylish to use on the go. Plus, with a growing volume of users, the company is able to use its customer data to track medication compliance.

"What's really neat about EllieGrid is that we are starting to learn users' habits as days go by, so that we can trigger alarms at optimal times," says co-founder and CEO Abe Matamoros at The Cannon's female entrepreneurs pitch night.

For co-founder, Regina Vatterott, the company is about reinventing traditional medical devices that can be clunky or inefficient for daily use.

"We want to do more and more with medical devices because we think that people are always people before they are patients," Vatterott says.Read more about EllieGrid here — as well as more about the founder here.

Intelligent Implants

Intelligent Implant's co-founder, Juan Pardo, told the crowd at Demo Day that his company's device allows for 50 percent faster bone growth in patients. Photo by Cody Duty/TMC

Chronic lower back pain can result in a need for spinal fusion surgery — and 40 percent of those surgeries fail, says Juan Pardo, co-founder of Intelligent Implants, which has an office in Houston. Pardo and his team have come up with an implant that tracks post-op healing and introduces electronic stimulation wirelessly.

The device is the same size and shape as the spacer that surgeons currently use, but contains a technology that can deliver electronic stimulation therapy and monitor progress without needing batteries. The doctor is able to adjust treatment remotely, and the device can heal the patient 50 percent faster than the standard care.

Intelligent Implants was announced as the first in-residence company at the Center for Device Innovation by Johnson and Johnson and also launched its large animal studies. The company has a goal to raise $1.6 million, and has already secured $900,000 — $250,000 of which came from the new TMC Venture Fund. Read more about Intelligent Implants and the other Texas companies in its TMC cohort here.

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Building Houston

 
 

Check out these conferences, pitch competitions, networking, and more in the month of June. Photo via Getty Images

It's time to look at what's on the agenda for June for Houston innovators — from pitch competitions to networking events.

Here's a roundup of events not to miss this month. Mark your calendars and register accordingly.

Note: This post might be updated to add more events.


June 2 — Boost Your Brand's Online Visibility with a Book

Discover the untapped potential of self-publishing a book to establish your expertise, increase your visibility, and build your network. If you have ever considered publishing a book someday, this event is for you.

The event is Friday, June 2, from 8:30 to 10:30 am, at Impact HUB (Amegy Building - 1801 Main St 10th floor.) Click here to register.

June 2 — Best AI Tools for Business Innovation and Growth

This informative workshop is aimed at introducing participants to the latest AI tools available for businesses to innovate and grow. The interactive sessions will provide practical insights and expert advice from speakers who are experts in the field of AI. Participants will learn about the various AI tools that can be used for businesses, including machine learning, natural language processing, computer vision, and more.

The event is Friday, June 2, from 10 to 11 am, online. Click here to register.

June 7-9 — The Future of Global Energy Conference

To highlight Houston's role in the global energy transition, the Greater Houston Partnership, Houston Energy Transition Initiative, and Center for Houston's Future will host a dynamic three-day conference focusing on the role community engagement, innovation and technology, workforce, and funding play in implementing Houston's energy transition strategy.

The event is Wednesday, June 7, to Friday, June 9. The event is hybrid at various locations in Houston. Click here to register.

June 8 — Out in Tech Houston | Monthly Mixer

Out in Tech provides an inclusive networking space for LGBTQ+ people and allies working in tech. Join this relaxed, social-mixer event, hosted on the second Thursday of every month.

The event is Thursday, June 8, at 6:30 to 8:30 pm at Avant Garden. Click here to register.

June 9 — The Future of Global Energy Conference: Luncheon

The Future of Global Energy conference concludes with a gathering of experts and thought leaders, exploring the roadmap for Houston to lead the transition to an energy-abundant, low-carbon future. Panelists include:

  • Jim Gable, President, Chevron Technology Ventures
  • John Hall, President & CEO, Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC)
  • Dr. Ramanan Krishnamoorti, Chief Energy Officer, University of Houston
  • MODERATOR: Jane Stricker, Senior Vice President, Energy Transition & Executive Director, Houston Energy Transition Initiative, Greater Houston Partnership

The event is Friday, June 9, from 10 am to 3 pm, at Hilton Americas. Click here to register.

June 9-10 — Mission Innovate - Reimagining Space Technology to Solve Today’s Challenges

This summer, innovators from around the greater Houston area will convene for a two-day event to innovate, disrupt, and help design innovative solutions that can address gaps in numerous key areas. Entrepreneurs will work with licensable intellectual property from NASA’s IP portfolio to solve some of the largest problems facing the industry. Experienced and first-time founders will form teams, ideate, and pitch their ideas to renown technology entrepreneurs, including members of the innovation teams at NASA. As part of the event, teams will be taught critical startup methodologies, advised by experienced business leaders, and network with an entire community that dreams of shaping key areas in emerging technology.

The event is Thursday, June 9, to Friday, June 10, at the Cannon West Houston. Click here to register.

June 12-14 — Energy Drone & Robotics Summit

The most influential gathering of over 1,500 industrial, energy, and engineering leaders from around the globe where the key challenges and solutions are addressed for operating robotics, drones, satellites, and remote systems successfully and managing AI/data, from the stars to the sea floor.

The event is Monday, June 12, to Wednesday, June 14, at Woodlands Waterway Marriott & Convention Center. Click here to register.

June 13 — Investor Studio Series: VC Due Diligence Best Practices

During this event, Golden Section, a venture capital fund and founders studio obsessed with B2B SaaS product development, will discuss how VCs approach investing and conduct due diligence, and why this matters for founders. The presentation will cover:

  • Market changes that effect how VCs approach investing
  • What founders need to prepare for this new environment
  • How Golden Section approaches due diligence

The event is Tuesday, June 13, from 4 to 6 pm, at the Ion. Click here to register.

June 13 — Using ChatGPT to Grow Your Business

Learn how to harness the power of artificial intelligence and use ChatGPT to not only stay ahead of the game but to redefine it. Whether it's handling queries, managing customer relationships, or generating leads, AI can automate and enhance many aspects of your work. This session will guide attendees through the fascinating world of AI and show them how to leverage it for maximum results.

The event is Tuesday, June 13, from 11 am to 1 pm, at Amcap Mortgage. Click here to register.

June 15 — Female Founders and Funders Meetup

Monthly, every third Thursday, Softeq Venture Studio and Sesh Coworking invite all rockstar female founders and funders in the Houston area to network and empower each other.

The event is Thursday, June 15, from 9 to 10 am, at Sesh Coworking. Click here to register.

June 20 — Co-Creating the Future: An African Startup Symposium on Collaboration

This physical symposium explores opportunities for cross-border entrepreneurial collaboration between the US/Houston and Africa. From Idea to Impact, delving into the African startup ecosystem, highlighting growth and potential for cross-border collaboration, key sectors driving innovation and growth, and legal, regulatory, and cultural considerations and challenges for cross-border collaborations. Startups and investment opportunities will be showcased.

The Agenda:

6:00 pm - 6:10 pm - Introduction to the event and The Beta Collective
6:15 pm - 6:20 pm - Sponsors Highlight
6:20 pm - 6:35 pm - Startup showcase
6:35 pm - 6:40 pm - Panel Introduction
6:40 pm- 7:30 pm - Panel
7:30 - 7:50 pm - Q&A
7:50 - 8:00 pm- Closing and Thanks
8:00 - 8:30 pm - Strategic Networking

The event is Tuesday, June 20, from 6 to 8:30 pm, at The Ion. Click to register.

June 22 — Ultrasound. Integrated. Everywhere.

Pump & Pipes is hosting an event focused on thin-film ultrasound technologies from energy applications into aerospace, health, and medtech sectors.

In collaboration with NASA Tech Talks, and the Mingle Monday Health & MedTech series at The Ion, join Pumps & Pipes as they venture into a discussion on the use of ultrasound technologies from both terrestrial and space medicine perspectives.

The event is Thursday, June 22, from 6 to 9 pm, at the Ion. Click here to register.

June 28 — June Transition On Tap

Transition On Tap is Greentown Labs' monthly networking event devoted to fostering conversations and connections among the climate and energy transition ecosystem in Houston and beyond. Entrepreneurs, investors, students, and friends of climatetech are invited to attend, meet colleagues, discuss solutions, and engage with our growing community. If you’re looking for a job in climatetech or energy, trying to expand your network, or perhaps thinking about starting your own energy-related company, this is the event for you.

The event is Wednesday, June 28, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, at the Ion. Click here to register.

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