April 17, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria med tech company gets $100,000 grant

ELYRIA — A young Elyria company trying to burst on the medical technologies scene was among three Northeast Ohio companies highlighted Friday when Lorain County Community College’s Foundation Innovation Fund doled out $225,000 to help with research and development.

VasoLux MicroSystems, which makes a medical diagnostic device to analyze the quality and condition of human cartilage — specifically analyzing the chemical composition — was awarded $100,000 during the ceremony at the college’s new Entrepreneurial Innovation Center, which Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher attended.

The product differs from a CT scan or other testing equipment in that it offers an objective and irrefutable analysis of tissue, Reed said, whereas a CT scan or similar equipment produces an image that medical professionals have to evaluate and then agree upon a diagnosis. 

VasoLux general manager Elliot Reed said the money will be used to hire new research engineers to perfect their product. 

VasoLux is a spinoff of another local company, Clear Image Technology, which also was taken under the wing of LCCC’s GLIDE center, a business incubator at the college that assists new companies in developing their business.

The other two start-up companies that received awards at Friday’s gathering were Wireless Environment, a Pepper Pike-based company designing a longer-lasting LED light bulb, and Nanomimetics, a Cleveland company developing a polymer coating for marine products. 

Wireless Environment was given $100,000, while Nanomimetics received $25,000. 

Dozens of business, academic and government leaders from throughout Northeast Ohio attended Friday’s event, as it was the first time LCCC’s Foundation Innovation Fund awarded money to local entrepreneurs. 

Nearly 70 start-up companies in Northeast Ohio applied for LCCC Innovation Fund money, but the list was whittled down to three.

With word of the funding spreading quickly, LCCC officials say the number of companies applying for the second round of grants has doubled.

The fund currently provides $1 million annually to area start-ups, though the peak goal is to provide $5 million in funding to 60 or more companies each year. It’s a move that, if successful, could invigorate Ohio’s economy like never before, LCCC President Roy Church said.

Ohio’s Third Frontier Program — a state program encouraging high-tech growth — provided $400,000 to the college’s Foundation Innovation Fund, while local donors increased the cash pool to $1 million.

The fund helps start-up companies that aren’t fully developed, most of which are in high-tech fields such as information technology, instrumentation, advanced materials, biosciences and advanced energy. 

“These are ideas that begin in the shower, in the garage or on the way to work,” Fisher said, adding that the companies could eventually blossom into behemoths like Goodyear.

Three things develop a strong economy: Retaining companies, attracting companies and creating companies — also known as “Grow Your Own,” Church said. 

The “Grow Your Own” theory is what the LCCC Innovation Fund aims for, just like the college’s GLIDE Institute and the Entrepreneurial Innovation Center.

The companies that receive start-up grant money become part of LCCC’s Entrepreneurial Innovation Center, where they have full access to business resources, marketing and business professionals and virtually every resource they need.

Reed, of VasoLux, said his company is eventually hoping to distribute the diagnostics device to orthopedics companies, and they’ll need the business assistance that LCCC and regional incubators can offer to help with marketing, branding, business development and the like. 

Contact Shawn Foucher at 329-7197 or sfoucher@chroniclet.com.