Houston female-focused health tech pitch competition names top 3 startup founders
A female-focused pitch competition named its top health tech startups for the fifth year running.
Ignite Healthcare Network, a Houston nonprofit founded on the mission of supporting women in health care, hosted its annual Fire Pitch Competition on November 9 at the Ion, crowning the award recipients and doling out cash prizes.
This year, Ignite accelerated 19 female health tech founders through its program that connects entrepreneurs with mentors and industry professionals. The program concludes with a select number of finalists presenting at the Fire Pitch event.
This year, eight finalists presented at the competition for judges and an audience:
- Suchismita Acharya, CEO of Fort Worth-based AyuVis, an immunotherapy platform that's developing treatments and prevention for inflammatory and infectious diseases, specifically of the lung, kidney, skin, eye, and sepsis.
- Piyush Modak, co-founder, vice president of research and development of New Jersey-based EndoMedix, a technology platform developing engineered biosurgery devices that address clinical needs. The first device based on this platform is PlexiClotTM Absorbable Hemostat for brain and spinal surgery.
- Somer Baburek, co-founder and CEO of San Antonio-based HERAbiotech, which is developing a non-surgical, molecular diagnostic test for endometriosis.
- Melissa Bowley, founder of Flourish Care, a B2B health services platform and network addressing maternal health disparities and improve outcomes. The Boston company works with health systems and insurance companies..
- Patty Lee, co-founder and CEO of Orbit Health, a Munich-based company that uses AI and sensor technologies to develop digital health solutions for the management of Parkinson's.
- Tawny Hammett, chief revenue officer of New York-based Paloma Health, a patient-focused technology providing holistic approach to thyroid care all from the comfort of home.
- Meghan Doyle, CEO and co-founder of Chicago-based Partum Health, a company focused on combining specialty reproductive care, including mental health, lactation, nutrition, physical therapy, birth doula support, and more.
- Asma Mirza, CEO and co-founder of Houston-based Steradian Technologies, creator of the RUMI, a medical device that's providing diagnostic accessibility.
Ayse McCracken, founder and board chair of Ignite, and her partners presented several prizes and awards, including naming the winners — EndoMedix won first place, Hera Biotech secured second place, and Steradian Technologies was awarded third place.
In addition to naming the three top companies, the following prizes were doled out:
- Memorial Hermann presented AyuVis with a certificate indicating interest in a potential partnership.
- Golden Seeds awarded a $1,000 cash prize and three hours of mentoring to Steradian Technologies.
- Texas Children's Hospital presented Flourish Care with a certificate indicating interest in a potential partnership.
- Southwest-Midwest National Pediatric Device Innovation Consortium awarded Hera Biotech with $20,000.
- Houston Methodist awarded each of the three top companies with mentorship from innovation leadership.
- JLabs presented EndoMedix with a one-year virtual residency.
- Donna Peters, founder of The Me Suite and mentor for Ignite, presented Hera Biotech with three coaching sessions.
Earlier this year, McCracken sat down with InnovationMap to share how she's grown the program over the past five years — and why she's so passionate about what she does.
"Having an impact in the health care industry and finding solutions is important to me," McCracken says on an episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "The second aspect of that is there are so many women in health care, and yet you don't see them in leadership roles."