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Past Five Minute Pitch Contests and Winners

2015 Five-Minute Pitch Contest

Admetsys Wins $3,500 in Prizes at The Venture Forum’s Five-Minute Pitch Contest

Worcester, April 15, 2015 –A “smart pancreas” producer that automates glucose and insulin delivery to hospitalized diabetic patients, Admetsys won both the $2,500 first prize and the $1,000 audience choice award at The Venture Forum’s ninth annual Five-Minute Pitch Contest last night. Rapidly absorbent sutures company VitaThreads, LLC took the $1,500 second prize, and Articulate Labs won special mention from the judges for its successful orthopedic device that speeds recovery from knee surgery. AMProtection, which has developed an antimicrobial surface treatment for orthopedic implants, won the $500 poster session prize for the second year in a row. 

Admetsys CEO Jeff Valk gave the winning presentation on the company he founded seven years ago with his father, endocrinologist and the company’s chief scientist, Tim Valk. Poised to begin prototype production within months and then clinical trials for its fully automated intravenous glucose control system early next year, Boston-based Admetsys expects to improve the economics of healthcare by addressing the nation’s diabetic epidemic, which accounts for more than one in five healthcare dollars spent annually.

VitaThreads grew from the work of two WPI biomedical engineering professors on a microthread device developed from fibrin, the body’s own wound healing matrix. President and CEO Adam Colette, PhD, showed the audience the first prototype of the dissolvable suture material, and explained that the company’s first market would be aesthetic surgeons with customers seeking less costly procedures and lower odds of complications with post-surgical sutures. (more)

Returning for a second year, AMProtection won the poster award for its description of a tethered antimicrobial peptide it has developed for orthopedic implants, such as a hip replacement. Co-founders Todd Alexander and Lindsay Lozeau seek to improve patient outcomes by reducing infection stemming from orthopedic surgery.  

Gold sponsors InnoLoft and the WPI Robert Foisie School of Business, and silver sponsor Gesmer Updegrove underwrote the prizes and the event’s reception, with additional support from Boynton Angels, Hamilton Brook Smith Reynolds, Vector 5 Collaborative, Mirick O’Connell, Bowditch & Dewey, Greenberg, Rosenblatt, Kull & Bitsoli, P.C., Paul Horn, Davideo Company and media partner Worcester Business Journal. 

The Venture Forum recently grew out of two decades of operation as the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) Venture Forum. It offers a foundation for learning and connecting with resources essential to launching and growing successful technology businesses, typically through meetings on the second Tuesday of the month at WPI.  

VitaThreads, Articulate Labs, AMProtection Also Winners 

2014 Five-Minute Pitch Contest

Judges Winner: Sano LLC

Bringing a lab process to the bedside, Wellesley-based Sano LLC has

developed WounDx, a diagnostic swab resembling a pregnancy test kit that indicates in three minutes the concentration of certain enzymes in a non-healing wound. With this information, doctors can determine whether skin grafts will succeed or if other measures need to be taken earlier, avoiding more costly treatments and needless patient discomfort. As co-founder and president Paul Hayre noted in his presentation, the device can reduce the cost of treating these wounds by 30 percent and save $8 billion for the 6.5 million patients in the U.S. and 34 million worldwide who suffer from them. The winning prize is for $2,500.

Audience Winner: Drinkwell

Drinkwell is a company founded to transform the global water crisis into economic opportunity for local communities in developing countries. Building water storage tanks that filter out toxic arsenic and high fluoride concentrations from ground water in communities that are willing to invest in water sales, Drinkwell has developed a franchise model for local, low-cost production and sales of clean water in 20 liter jugs in rural areas in India and Bangladesh. The model has been tested in Laos and Cambodia as well. Presenter Minhaj Chowdhury explained that local businesses invest $500 to enter their own water sales business.

Poster Session Winner: 

Attendees voted for AMProtection and their explanation of their antimicrobial peptide coating to reduce infection in orthopedic implants. They were awarded a $250 gift card.

2013 Five-Minute Pitch Contest

Judges Winner: Trovare, Inc.

Trovare, Inc. was selected by the expert panel of judges to win the main $2,500 prize. Co-founder Fabrizio Filipini presented his company’s “Amico” technology-enhanced wristbands that help wearers to identify people with similar interests who are in close proximity. Fabrizio and Sean Eliseev accepted the winner’s plaque and prize money.

Audience’s Winner: Bounce Imaging

The audience was dazzled by Bounce Imaging, which won a $500 prize. Founder Francisco Aguilar introduced the audience to Bounce Imaging’s innovative bouncing ball, which is equipped with cameras and other sensors to enable first-responders to see into and analyze dangerous or otherwise inaccessible spaces.

Poster Contest Winner: Freight Farms

Freight Farms of Boston won the Poster Contest. Freight Farms’ high-yield crop production in shipping containers offers a new way to source food locally. Co-founder Brad McNamara and staffer Becca Liebman accepted the prize and winner’s plaque.

2013 Judges (titles and affiliations as of 2013)

Alexandra Glucksmann, Ph.D, Senior VP of R&D at Cerulean Pharma

Mark A. Lester, Managing General Partner of Provenance Venture Partners, LLC

Peter Sliwkowski, Vice President, Products, at Vuuch

Janice A. Vatland, Shareholder at Wolf Greenfield and Sacks, P.C.

Jonathan Draluck, Partner at Gesmer Updegrove LLP

2012 Five-Minute Pitch Contest

Judges Winner: Empire Robotics, a general-purpose robotic gripper manufacturer from Ithaca, NY, won over the judging panel and was awarded the grand prize of $2500. John Amend, the company’s CTO, presented a robotic gripper that reliably manipulates irregularly-shaped objects from eyeglasses to raw eggs at a low competitive cost.

Audience’s Winner: Safe Siren, a Worcester-based company and developer of personal safety alarms for students was the recipient of the $500 prize awarded by the audience. When triggered, the Safe Siren alarm emits a high decibel alarm to scare off the assailant and simultaneously sends your GPS location to Safe Siren servers, which redirects it to the nearest authorities. The student’s physical descriptions and location pop-up on the dispatcher’s computer screen so that the dispatcher can ensure that appropriate actions are taken to ensure the student’s safety. Katy Cleminson accepted the award for Safe Siren.

Poster Contest Winner: The winner of a plaque and $250 gift card was Ad Verna, a Westborough-based biotech start-up. Founder Alexey Wolfson presented the poster and accepted the award.

2012 Judges (titles and affiliations as of 2012)

Doug Banks, UMass president’s staff, program manager for Science and Technology Initiatives and associate VP of economic development

Jerry Bird, president of MTDC

Todd Keiller runs the technology transfer office at WPI

Peter Moldave, partner at Gesmer Updegrove

Doug Wolf, shareholder at Wolf Greenfield

2011 Five-Minute Pitch Contest

Judge's and Audience Winner: For the first time in the contest's history, both audience and judges chose the same pitch as their winner. The $500 audience choice award and the 2,500 judges' prize went to Factor Bioscience as presented by Chief Science Officer, Mark Scott. Factor Bioscience is an early-stage company that provides cells to phamaceutical companies for drug screening and regenerative medicine.

Watch the Factor Bioscience presentation video

2011 Judges (titles and affiliations as of 2011)

Karl Buttner, Chief Mentorship Officer for Mass Challenge

William "Bill" Contente, Partner at Gesmer Updegrove LLP

Jason Honeyman, Shareholder at Wolf Greenfield P.C.

Gus Weber, Entrepreneur-in-Residence with Polaris Venture Partners

Marcia Dougan Woods, MPH, Business Development Manager at Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute

2010 Five-Minute Pitch Contest

Judges' Winner:  VitaSpider.com (currently beta product development stage) won the $2,500 prize awarded by the expert panel of judges.  Nicolas Xu, CEO of VitaSpider.com, described the company as a SAAS network focused on the financial accounting-related process automation. Xu believes accounting departments in small and mid-sized businesses are a waste of resources and with proper data integration and service aggregation, he can reduce accounting costs by at least 50% for SME, meanwhile increasing accuracy and reliability of their financial information.


Audience's Winner:  EndoSphere Surgical, Inc. won over the audience and collected a $500 prize.  Mel Prenovitz, CEO of EndoSphere Surgical, Inc., talked about how Laparoscopic surgery is best performed with a "triangulated" angle of view of the surgical site for depth perception and hand-eye coordination, typically accomplished by an endoscope. The image is viewed from one perspective while the instruments enter from another. The EndoSphere approach eliminates incision ports while allowing surgeons to regain full visual field with enhanced dexterity and improved cosmetic outcomes.

2010 Judges (titles and affiliations as of 2010)

  • Anita Ballesteros, Ph.D. – Licensing Officer, UMass Medical School Office of Technology Management
  • Graham Brooks – Principal, .406 Ventures
  • Mitchell Sanders, Ph.D. – Founder, ECI Biotech
  • Steve Snyder – Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Gesmer Updegrove, LLP
  • Edmund J. Walsh, J.D. – Shareholder, Wolf Greenfield and Sacks, P.C

2009 Five-Minute Pitch Contest

Judges' Winner:  Shorepower Technologies of Portland Oregon won the $2,500 prize awarded by the expert panel of judges.  Joe Licari, Director of Eastern Operations for Shorepower, described the company's deployment of electrified parking space technology to provide truck stop electrification and power to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles with the goal of lowering emissions and reducing maintenance costs.

Watch the ShorePower Technologies presentation video

Audience's Winner:  ColdStor Data, Inc. of Walpole, New Hampshire won over the audience and collected a $500 prize.  Joel Love, CTO and founder of ColdStor, showcased how the company's long-term digital archive data storage technology could decrease storage costs by 70 percent while increasing accessibility and security.

Watch the ColdStor Data presentation video

2009 Judges (titles and affiliations as of 2009)

Justin Aborn, CTO & Chief Scientist of General Compression, Inc.

Robert J. Crowley, President, Massachusetts Technology Development Corp.

Laura Ring, Vice President of Strategic Relations, Castile Ventures

Patrick R.H. Waller, Shareholder, Wolf Greenfield, PC

W. Lambert (Bert) Welling, Managing Director at MedTech Capital, Inc.

2008 Five-Minute Pitch Contest

Judges’ Winner:  TBS Technologies of Holliston, Massachusetts won the $1,000 prize awarded by the expert panel of judges.  Norman Strate, the President of TBS Technologies, described a tiny machine that generates and disperses chlorine dioxide gas to eradicate dangerous microbes in health care facilities (and anywhere else dangerous microorganisms may live).

Audience’s Winner:  Owl Power Company of Boylston, Massachusetts won over the audience and collected a $500 prize.  James Peret, President and CEO of Owl Power, explained how his company manufactures, installs and operates Vegawatt™ machines, which provide electricity and hot water in restaurants fueled by the restaurant’s own waste vegetable oil and grease.

Watch the June 2008 Competition video  

Judges (descriptions from 2008):

William Cowen, Managing Partner at Long River Ventures

Chris Golden, President, Mission Critical Advisors and Vice Chairman, Boynton Angels

Steven Henry, Shareholder, Wolf Greenfield, P.C.

Janice Shields, Managing Partner and Executive Vice President, Shields & Company, Inc.

Mark Solomon, Principal, Hamilton Brook Smith & Reynolds, P.C.


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