Business & Government

Texas A&M Alumnus’ Biomedical Company Wins 2019 Texas A&M New Ventures Competition

Spark Biomedical was awarded $50,000 as the winner of the 2019 Texas A&M New Ventures Competition.
By Amy Halbert, Texas A&M University College of Engineering May 20, 2019

From left: Chris Scotti, chair of the Texas A&M New Ventures Competition, Daniel Powell and Balakrishna Haridas.
From left: Chris Scotti, chair of the Texas A&M New Ventures Competition, Daniel Powell and Balakrishna Haridas.


A Texas A&M University former student’s startup, Spark Biomedical, was awarded $50,000 as the winner of the 2019 Texas A&M New Ventures Competition (TNVC) hosted by the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES). Daniel Powell is CEO of the medical device company, which is developing noninvasive neurostimulation solutions for opioid withdrawal and addiction.

“I’m very humbled and grateful,” said Powell, CEO of Spark and a 1996 graduate of Texas A&M’s Mays Business School. “This award means a lot because Texas A&M is my alma mater. Being back here is fantastic, and this win is a testament to the work we’re doing and our dedication to making a difference with this product.”

Also in the finals was Teysha Technologies, which was commercialized out of Texas A&M College of Science laboratories. Teysha has developed new solutions for the worldwide plastics pollution problem by developing a natural polycarbonate platform that will degrade after the end of their useful lifetime.

Teysha’s CEO and inventor of the technology, Dr. Karen L. Wooley, has joint appointments in the departments of chemistry, chemical engineering, and materials science and engineering. Dr. Ashlee Jahnke is head of research and development for the company as well as an assistant research scientist at Texas A&M.

The competition featured a new award this year, the Engineering Vice Chancellor’s Innovation Prize. Two $15,000 (in-kind support) prizes were awarded to Sun Co. Tracking and Ictero Medical. Sun Co. Tracking is developing shape memory alloy actuators for solar panels, and Ictero Medical is developing a catheter-based therapy for treating and preventing gallstone disease.

“This unique prize is intended to help the awardees access the world-class engineering capabilities at Texas A&M to obtain technical assistance toward solving their most challenging technical problems in product design, manufacturing or testing,” said Dr. Balakrishna Haridas, TEES director for technology commercialization and entrepreneurship. “These collaborations between the prize winners and Texas A&M Engineering will generate technical data to support on Small Business Innovation Research/grant proposal funding or private capital investments to the company.”

At more than $500,000 in cash and in-kind services, the prize pool for this year’s competition was the largest yet. Since 2015, the TNVC has awarded more than $1.5 million in prizes to Texas-based startups.

A full list of winners is available on the Texas A&M New Ventures Competition website.

  • 1st – $50,000 – Spark Biomedical
  • 2nd – $35,000 – SurfEllent
  • 3rd – $25,000 – Intelligent Implants
  • 4th – $15,000 – Teysha Technologies
  • 5th – $10,000 – VenoStent
  • 6th – $5,000 –  GaitIQ

Elevator pitch competition:

  • 1st – $5,000 – PolyVascular
  • 2nd – $4,000 – Saber
  • 3rd – $3,000 – Novothelium
  • 4th – $2,000 – Immosis
  • 5th – $1,000 – EM Device Lab

Additional prizes:

  • Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation Launch Prize – Saber
  • Southwest National Pediatric Devices Consortium Prizes – Spark Biomedical and EM Device Lab
  • Ark Pharmacies, Inc. Regional Prize – GaitIQ
  • Paragon Engineering Services Prize – Toggle Health
  • Biotex Investment Prize – PolyVascular
  • Amerra Visualization Services Prize – PolyVascular
  • Thomas | Horstemeyer IP Legal Services Prize – Ictero Medical and Teysha Technologies
  • TMC Investment Prize – GaitIQ
  • TMC Accelerator Admission Prize – Ictero Medical
  • Ramey & Schwaller IP Legal Services Prize – VenoStent
  • Aggie Angel Network Investment Prize – Spark Biomedical
  • Hollinden Marketing and Strategists Services Prize – GaitIQ
  • Schwegman Lundberg and Woessner IP Legal Services Prize – GaitIQ
  • TEES Clean Energy Incubator Prize – CarbonWire Technology
  • GOOSE Society Investment Prize – PolyVascular
  • Engineering Vice Chancellor Innovation Prize – Sun Co. Tracking and Ictero Medical
  • TEEX Product Development Center Prize – SurfEllent

This article by Amy Halbert originally appeared on the TEES website.

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