Pitch Contest Features Young Biotech Companies


As part of SCBIO’s “Face to Face Life Sciences Conference” last week, nine startups put their best pitches forward for a chance to win $2,500 and advice from biotech startup experts.

The event took place Nov. 15 at the Mills House Wyndam Grand Hotel in Charleston.

Gov. Nikki Haley delivered the keynote address earlier in the day.

The pitch contest was a first for the annual conference of biomedical researchers, entrepreneurs and biomedical manufacturers. Participants were given four minutes to simulate an “elevator pitch” to a funder who would potentially fund their startups. Riley Csernica, CEO of Tarian Orthotics of Charleston, won the contest. The company designed a shoulder brace that allows for direct support to the shoulder joint by combining a custom-fit insert and self-applicable strapping system not available in current braces.

Five Upstate companies participated.

Seth McCullen of Greenville-based Sierra Medtech pitched a synthetic meniscus that mimics the natural structure and maintains meniscal volume in the knee. He emphasized that the product could be used and manufactured in South Carolina. The company was looking for $400,000 in its first round of funding to finalize development and conduct a large animal study. It plans to market the product to orthopedic surgeons.

Cody Reynolds pitched AD3’s sutures and surgical meshes that release antimicrobial medicine for an unprecedented three months.

“They sort of gave gentle prompts about what our commercialization process was or what were the value-added parts of our product,” he said of his pitch experience.

Participants said they were impressed with each other’s presentations.

“It also showed us the level of competition that can be anticipated when appearing before a VC – anything and everything is competing for the same money so going in with a good hand of cards and a knowledge of how to play that hand of cards is a must,” said Hobey Tam, a Ph.D. student at Clemson. He pitched TriValve, a method for producing bioprosthetic heart valves. “All in all, though I did not win, people were impressed with the technology and the team. Most importantly, people will remember the TRI Heart name when it counts,” he said.



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