Bioaccel announces SkinSAFE as Solutions Challenge 2016 as grand prize winner

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Bioaccel announces SkinSAFE as Solutions Challenge 2016 as potential $100,000 grand prize winner

Six university student teams awarded $10,000 in start-up grants

Phoenix, AZ  (December 6, 2016) — BioAccel, an organization dedicated to supporting early-stage medical device and technology entrepreneurs, announced winners receiving more than $110,000 in early-stage start-up funding during its premiere competition, Solutions Challenge 2016 powered by Arizona Board of Regents and presented by Sinfonia Rx, held December 1 at Phoenix Theatre.

This year’s competition included both a challenge category for entrepreneurs and a university team competition that altogether attracted more than 60 proposals.

SkinSAFE, a web and mobile e-commerce and analytics platform that personalizes the way people find and purchase products safe for their skin, won the grand prize of a possible $100,000 in early-stage seed funding.

SkinSAFE created the first ingredient-based recommendation engine for skincare products to help users easily avoid allergens and make healthier choices for their skin. SkinSAFE was developed with Mayo Clinic.

The company competed in the Digital, Wearable and Mobile Health competition category sponsored by Life365.

“We are thrilled to receive funding to advance SkinSAFE, helping us to offer detailed product information and a first-of-its-kind ingredient scoring system to provide consumers with ingredient transparency and the knowledge and power needed to make buying decisions,” noted Aki Hashmi, SkinSAFE CEO.  “This funding will enable us to accelerate our growth and increase our user base of skin allergy and sensitive skin sufferers, physicians, skin health professionals, product manufacturers and all consumers who want to understand how skin, beauty and household products affect their skin and overall health.”

Finalists included five entrepreneur companies focused on competition categories, and 10 university student innovation teams to present medical innovations for potential seed funding at the Solutions Challenge Scorpion Pit, Arizona’s equivalent to the television series “Shark Tank.”

“BioAccel received a record number of submissions this year making the event incredibly competitive, and both the category and student team finalists had great ideas that need to be pursued whether they were selected for funding,” said MaryAnn Guerra, BioAccel CEO and co-founder. “Now in its third year, the competition has grown in scope and national recognition, bringing together innovation, entrepreneurship and early investment as an important building block in growing Arizona’s economy.”

From 10 university finalists presenting on stage, six student teams were selected to win BioAccel start-up grants under two categories including “Proof of Product,” where medical devices and technology products have advanced to the point of company start-up, and “Concept Pitch” featuring student team concepts in formative stages of development.

“Our five competition category finalists were allowed 15 minutes for in-depth presentations, and our university student teams were given five minutes each for their presentations,” noted Ron King, Ph.D., BioAccel’s Chief Science Officer and co-founder. “Of this very robust group of innovators in medical device and health care technology, we’ve uncovered a tremendous opportunity to facilitate innovation and we look forward to continued growth in our region’s entrepreneurship in biosciences.”

The following winning student teams competed under the Regents Rivalry Award for Students, sponsored by Medtronic.


Student Proof-of-Product Winners


Proof of product first place: Troxie from Arizona State University ($3,000 grant)

There is no continuously wearable pulse oximeter available to children. This creates a stressful situation for parents of children with severe respiratory diseases, particularly while the child is sleeping. This also prevents children with severe respiratory diseases from participating in physical activity due to fears of overexertion.

The Troxie team has developed a wearable, wrist-based pulse oximeter to be used in monitoring and tracking the health state of children suffering from respiratory related diseases or illnesses. Unlike current devices on the market, the Wrist-Based Pulse Oximeter provides a discrete, pediatric-specific, continuous monitoring system that is affordable without insurance and available without prescription.

Proof of product second place: Syntr Health Tech from University of California – Irvine ($2,000 grant)

Compared to current methods of obtaining stem cells from adipose tissue (fat), the Syntr Health Technologies device puts a new spin on the competition by providing a faster, easier and minimally processed method of obtaining the inherent regenerative cells. Syntrfuge™ a CD-LOC Device utilizes a combination of centrifugal design (CD) and lab-on-a-chip microfluidics to dissociate and activate the native stem cells in fat tissue. This fully automated system will allow for easy use by doctors or technicians in the hospital or clinic setting. With no chemical additives, our device ensures low risk to the patient and minimal manipulation of stem cells.

Proof of product third place: Sarver heart Center from University of Arizona ($1,250 grant)

Cardiovascular disease is among the most common causes of death and is an epidemic in our nation. Sarver Heart Center’s laboratory developed a rat model of Chronic Heart Failure (CHF) that accurately replicates clinical conditions of ventricular tachycardia (VT), ventricular fibrillation, mechanical alternans, and pulseless electrical activity which collectively contribute to mortalities associated with Sudden Cardiac Death. This team hopes to explore the effects of well-known arrhythmogenic and anti-arrhythmogenic drugs to validate the research model’s clinical accuracy and prepare the custom software for market.


Student Concept Pitch Winners

Concept pitch first place:  Lazrostics from University of California – Irvine ($2,000 grant)

Lazrostics is developing an enhanced endoscope to improve real-time data during endoscopic procedures. A traditional endoscope provides a white light, a lens system, and a camera for diagnosis and possible surgical procedures. The endoscope has lacked the ability to detect anything under the surface of a typical subject, yielding often insufficient data for whether there are clear indications of a symptom or not. Lazrostics will implement a blood flow sensing endoscope that is low cost and, ideally, single-use based.

Concept pitch second place: StepPlus from Arizona State University ($1,000 grant)

StepPlus is developing a wearable device that provides auditory, visual, and haptic feedback through a smartphone application, recording daily progress and transmitting a concise report to the neurologist or physical therapist. This rehabilitation technology would be the first on the market to track and provide feedback on step length. By making Parkinson's disease (PD) patients more aware of their abnormal step lengths, StepPlus aims to decrease the likelihood of falls for this population.

Concept pitch third place: HandleHealth.Tech from Grand Canyon University ($750 grant)

HandleHealth is developing a copper-type, antimicrobial material for door handles to provide a preventative sheath to prevent the spread of many diseases that hands touch.

BioAccel’s eight Scorpion Pit judges included medical device executives and investors willing to invest in early-stage, innovative companies solving healthcare issues as follows.

  • Dirk Karsten-Beth, Hyalescent Ventures Founder and Managing Director
  • Alex Brigham, Ethisphere Institute CEO
  • David Hetz, Cain Brothers Vice Chairman
  • Larry Heitz, Investor and Business Owner
  • David Holthe, Tallwave Capital General Partner
  • Vishu Jhaveri, M.D., M.S.A., Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona Senior Vice President of Health Services and Chief Medical Officer, and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona's investment subsidiary, Trinnovate Ventures
  • Matt Likens, Ulthera Founder and former CEO, and investor
  • Laura J. Zeman-Mullen, Patent Attorney |Zeman-Mullen & Ford, LLP


All team applications were vetted through a rigorous assessment process. Competition categories included the following areas identified by health care providers where opportunity for health innovation is notable:

  • Digital, Wearable and Mobile Health – Sponsored by Life365
  • Regents Rivalry Award for Students – Sponsored by Medtronic
  • Coordinated Care – Sponsored by Celgene
  • Novel Medical Devices sponsored by Molded Devices


Solutions Challenge 2016 Competition Category Descriptions

For the 2016 Solutions Challenge, special consideration was given to ventures that, in addition to addressing one of the Challenge Categories below, also positively impacted behavioral/mental health patients and aging populations. 

Digital, Wearable and Mobile Health – Sponsored by Life 365

The estimated CAGR of the digital and mobile health markets from 2015-2020 is 18 percent and 20 percent respectively[1],[2]. This rapid growth can be leveraged to direct personalized care, improve patient engagement, streamline workflow, and create data that can be utilized to influence patient and clinical behavior.  These factors play an important role in the changing reimbursement environment heavily weighting outcomes and performance. BioAccel invited digital wearable and mobile solutions that engage patients and clinicians to improve outcomes and ultimately reduce overall healthcare expenditures.

Regents Rivalry Award for Students – Sponsored by Medtronic (Two divisions: Proof of Product, and Quick Concept Pitches)

Developing the next generation of biomedical entrepreneurs is critical to sustainability and success of the biomedical industry. BioAccel opened this category to any and all medical technologies originating from current or recently graduated student teams.

Coordinated Care – Sponsored by Celgene

Coordinated care among individuals with complex or multiple chronic diseases is critical to obtaining the outcomes required by the pay for performance reimbursement model.  Because of this, technologies and business models that facilitate coordinated and continuous care are a hot topic in healthcare today.  Coordinated care is driving the need for technologies that improve communication between clinical specialists, increase the interoperability of electronic health records (EHRs and electronic medical records (EMRs). These technologies have potential to support professionals such as “Healthcare Navigators” ensure coordinated and continuous health care is delivered.  BioAccel invited entrepreneurs addressing coordinated care through technology to compete in this year’s solutions challenge. Ventures providing tools for Healthcare Navigators are highly needed and will be given special consideration.

Novel Medical Devices – Sponsored by Molded Devices

Medical devices are a staple in clinical care, and the current worldwide market for devices has surpassed $380 billion annually[3].  Although growth continues, markets in the US and other developed areas are reaching maturity and have increasing pressure from reimbursement and taxation.  The medical device industry is trending towards mergers and emerging markets to reach revenue targets.  The next generation of medical devices must not only improve clinical outcomes, but do so while reducing overall treatment costs, adding utility to mature device markets.  Medical device ventures that demonstrated these characteristics were eligible for Solutions Challenge 2016.    



About BioAccel


BioAccel is a leading organization in the United States dedicated to developing a robust medtech ecosystem including entrepreneur development, and creation of a validated pipeline of commercially viable medical technology to transform healthcare delivery. Our mission is to work with qualifying entrepreneurs and their early-stage companies to identify start-up funding, as well as provide training and mentorship to accelerate commercialization, improve healthcare through innovation, and diversify economic development.

Since inception in 2009, BioAccel has supported the launch of 17 game-changing healthcare device companies, filling an unmet need in Arizona’s emerging bioscience sector. BioAccel has helped its bioscience entrepreneurs successfully navigate the “Valley of Death” while creating healthy communities through vanguard solutions that support Arizona economic growth.


All BioAccel programs are dedicated to achieving its mission:  To work with qualifying entrepreneurs and their early-stage bioscience technology and medical device companies to identify start-up funding, as well as provide training and mentorship to accelerate commercialization, improve healthcare through innovation, and diversify economic development.




[1] (Wearable Medical Devices, 2015)

[2] (mhealth Markets Worldwide, 2015)

[3] (Global Market for Medical Devices, 6th Ed., 2015)