HCN News & Notes

Western New England University Startup Company Honored by Peers

SPRINGFIELD — New England Breath Technologies, a medical-device startup company formed by Western New England University professors Dr. Ronny Priefer and Dr. Michael Rust, won the People’s Choice Award recently at the annual M2D2 $100K Challenge.

The Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (M2D2) recently held its sixth annual $100K Challenge, a nationwide competition that showcases the innovative ideas of early-stage medical devices and start-up biotech companies. Its aim is to help new biotech and medical-device entrepreneurs develop products every step of the way, from proof of concept to commercialization.

“By winning the People’s Choice Award, it puts our new company, Breath Technologies, into the spotlight of innovation,” Preifer said. “We expect this recognition will trigger more investors to take a closer look at our breathalyzer, and invest in the company.”

Priefer and  Rust have developed a hand-held breathalyzer that allows individuals to painlessly check their blood-glucose levels. Instead of the traditional finger-stick testing, patients blow into a breathalyzer to detect the acetone levels in their breath, which have been linked to high blood glucose. With this information, patients can determine if they need to take insulin.

“Our goal is to help startups gain valuable services needed during the tenuous beginning stages of product development,” said Stephen McCarthy, UMass Lowell professor and director of M2D2. “Access to premium labs and other resources, along with experts and mentors, can make the difference between failure and success. We hope emerging companies from across the country will benefit from the M2D2 $100K Challenge.”

Added Rust, “we’re thrilled at the level of excitement our product received at the competition. This award was judged and selected by our peers, by the other 50 plus entrepreneurs in the competition, and we feel hopeful our startup company will continue to grow.”

Since it was founded in 2007, M2D2 has worked with more than 100 client companies, which in turn have secured more than $40 million in external funding for their ventures.