Two Auburn University entrepreneur teams among 10 finalists in second Alabama Launchpad Competition of 2013

AUBURN UNIVERSITY – Two Auburn University entrepreneur teams are among 10 finalists in the 2013 Alabama Launchpad Start-Up Competition’s proof of commercial competition, announced recently by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama Foundation.

The two finalists with Auburn University connections, Heartlife Technology LLC and Respriva, are competing for a share of $100,000 in award money. They were chosen from a field of 27 applicants by a five-judge panel made up of entrepreneurs, investors and corporate stakeholders. The contest is meant to promote, reward and increase high-growth, innovative ventures that have the potential to cultivate jobs in Alabama. Both teams are working closely with Auburn’s Office of Technology Transfer to develop materials for the competition.

In the healthcare services category, Heartlife Technology LLC plans to put affordable, easy-to-use, reliable defibrillation technology in the hands of everyone at risk by replacing the most expensive components of an automated external defibrillator with smartphones. The team, led by Tommy Foote, a recent graduate of the nursing program at Southern Union State Community College, is working with both the Office of Technology Transfer and Auburn’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Professor Thad Roppel and graduate student Brian Pappas are developing a demonstration prototype.   “Early defibrillation is directly linked to the return of a self-sustaining heart rhythm,” said Foote. “Seconds are crucial in these situations. Making AEDs [automated external defibrillators] more available will not only save lives, it will also reduce the $3.6 billion spent annually on direct costs for heart disease.”

Respriva, led by biological sciences student and Office of Technology Transfer intern Robert Koski, is developing a business plan for Respriva vaccine, a low-cost and effective vaccine that will minimize the swine industry’s losses due to bacterial pneumonia, a problem that currently costs the industry more than $300 million per year. Bernhard Kaltenboeck, professor of pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine and lead inventor in the technology, is also a member of the team.

“The Auburn Office of Techonology Transfer is placing greater emphasis on entering competitive teams in the Alabama Launchpad Start-up Competition,” said John Weete, assistant vice president for technology transfer and commercialization. “Having one of three winners in the competition earlier this year and placing two in the top 10 this round is a result of this emphasis.”

For the first time in its seven-year history, the Alabama Launchpad held back-to-back competitions this year, made necessary by the increase in number of entrants.

Finalists will submit their business plans by June 30 and make pitch presentations before the panel on July 12. The competition will conclude on Sept. 26 at the third annual Alabama Launchpad Innovation and Entrepreneurship Conference.

Alabama Launchpad, started seven years ago, is a program of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama Foundation. The program is supported by business, the state of Alabama and seven partnering universities: Auburn University, Alabama State University, Alabama A&M University, the University of Alabama, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Alabama in Huntsville and the University of South Alabama. More information is available at www.alabamalaunchpad.com.

(Written by Libby Horton.)

Contact: Charles Martin, Office of Communications and Marketing (334) 844-9999, (marticd@auburn.edu), or Brian Wright, Office of Technology Transfer, (334) 844-7962 (wrighb3@auburn.edu)