Accelerators / Startups

Meet the 10 early-stage companies in Pennovation Accelerator’s 2020 cohort

This year's startups include the makers of a device to enhance communication during surgery and of technology designed to optimize athletic performance.

Stealth.ify on desktop and mobile. (Courtesy image)

Now in its third year, the Pennovation Center introduced summer 2020 cohort of the Pennovation Accelerator on Wednesday.

Ten startups working in the software, medical device and consumer product fields were selected from 70 applications to start work this past Monday. Over the next six weeks, participants will develop their business models through mentorship and lessons on market analysis, positioning and sales strategy.

Due to the coronavirus, this year’s accelerator will be virtual for the first time. Here’s the 2020 cohort, with company descriptions adapted from Pennovation:

  • Buoyant — A telemedicine practice dedicated to helping people with migraines get continuous and personalized care
  • Green Ablutions — A hair care product company on a mission to prove less plastic is fantastic with zero-waste haircare bars
  • Headway — A medical device company devoted to improving surgical team communication in minimally invasive surgery
  • MielBar — A hair care company committed to simplifying care for curly or wavy hair using all natural ingredients
  • MyGrow Design — A materials company developing innovative biomaterial-based products and ecological solutions
  • Pawsitive — An app that helps you raise a healthy and happy dog
  • Percepta — Software that detects shoplifting in retail stores while mitigating racial, gender and age biases
  • Pression — A human-performance technology company focused on helping athletes improve performance
  • SOLUtion Medical — A company developing more patient-friendly delivery systems for reconstitutable drugs
  • Stealth.ify — An app that uses game-like features to incentivize social distancing

The culmination of the program will be Virtual Pitch Day on Thursday, July 16. Each company will pitch their their work to their mentors, a panel of judges and investors.

Two companies from 2019’s cohort, The OrVac and SimpleBulb, won top prizes at the end of their six weeks last summer.

The OrVac is a portable, handheld aspirator for oral liquid waste evacuation and disposal that helps patients with swallowing disorders; founder Tyiwanna Carter won the top overall prize of $5,000 and a six-month membership to the Pennovation Center. SimpleBulb makes lightbulbs to improve sleep; founder Greg Yeutter earned a six-month membership to the Pennovation Center for winning the Best Pitch award.

Since winning last year’s competition, Carter has had success at Amazon Web Services’ Startup Day and earned a grant from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She credits the Pennovation Accelerator with aiding her development as business founder.

“I am not the typical founder. I didn’t have the network or the resources that could help move my product to that next step,” Carter told the organization. “Since I’ve been a part of the Pennovation community, I’ve received grants, legal help and technical help. And, it’s not just the staff, it’s the other members. They make me feel like I belong.”

The Pennovation Center is a part of the Pennovation Works campus, which convenes inventors, researchers and biz founders across 23 acres of office, lab and production space. The entrepreneurial ecosystem was created by the University of Pennsylvania, which in light of recent incidents of police brutality is facing community pressure for funding the Philadelphia Police Foundation.

Here’s Penn President Amy Gutmann’s June 3 statement on recent civil unrest, including description of several initiatives made to “propel progress in our University, city, and society toward a more inclusive and impactful university and community”:

Michael Butler is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Companies: Pennovation Center

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