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AI / Delaware / Health tech / healthcare

RealLIST Startups 2024: Delaware’s most promising early-stage companies

Healthcare takes center stage among a diverse group of new First State ventures with bright futures.

Shouting out Delaware's RealLIST Startups for 2024. (Technical.ly/Holly Quinn)
2023 was, in many ways, a year of anticipatory dread. We saw technology leap forward before our very eyes, but it was all before a backdrop of a potential recession that never came.

All of that uncertainty made it a bad year for venture capital, with investments down to a six-year low in Q4. Yet, at least anecdotally, the number of startups cropping up and doing well in Delaware has been up, based on our research while putting together the latest Delaware RealLIST Startups

In the seven years since Technical.ly’s inaugural yearly roundup of the First State’s most promising young tech companies, we’ve seen an evolution — not just in the tech ecosystem but in how we define tech companies. The business of science and technology has been foundational in Delaware since the creation of DuPont in 1802. But that wasn’t always seen as “tech” over the last couple of decades, when Big Tech came to dominate.

Now, all companies are tech companies, and Delaware is part of two federally recognized tech hubs: The Mid-Atlantic Clean Hydrogen Hub (MACH2) and The Greater Philadelphia Region Precision Medicine Tech Hub. 2023 also saw the launch of the first gBETA Bronze Valley VentureLab accelerator in Delaware, which has already had an impact on the ecosystem.

Last year’s RealLIST Startups included STEM companies, especially in greentech and healthtech, as well as ecosystem-building ventures working to support entrepreneurs and technologists in Delaware and beyond. This year, STEM still dominates, especially healthcare-related startups. We’re also seeing AI startups enter the local field, as part of a national trend.

Technical.ly started the RealLIST as a yearly look at the exciting early-stage tech companies in each of our markets. Its name comes from questions often debated in our newsroom: Is that startup real? Is the team serious? Is the product interesting?

Since there’s no single definition for what a startup even is, we needed to lay down some rules for what qualifies as a “real” one in our eyes:

  • Founded no earlier than 2021 (though we know founding dates can be tricky)
  • Most of its revenue comes from an innovative product — so, no agencies
  • Has shown some track record of success
  • Remains independent, meaning it’s not been acquired, merged or gone public
  • Headquartered and primarily staffed in Delaware — especially important in a state where many of the companies incorporated here don’t live here.

As we say every year: These rankings are not scientific. This is merely a list of 10 companies we’re most excited to follow in 2024. If you’d like to see another company on this list next year, you can always offer your nominations for the RealLIST Startups (or any of our annual RealLISTs) using this submission form.

Before you learn about this year’s list, you can check out past years: 2023, 2022, 20212019, 2018 and 2017.

Now, let’s meet Technical.ly’s 2024 RealLIST Startups for Delaware:

 

10. Rotulu

Founded in 2021 by Dave Zickafoose and Robert Clos, Rotulu is an app that manages school incidents by collecting and analyzing student and faculty data on such events. The incidents range from classroom disruption to bullying. The app also chronicles the actions taken in each incident, creating a visualization for administrators that can help shape and maintain school safety policy. An EDGE STEM grant winner in 2023, Rotulu continues to be a startup to watch.

9. Sindri Materials

Founded by Dr. Christopher DiMarco in 2022, this Innovation Space-headquartered startup is a 2024 EDGE STEM grant winner that develops and manufactures high-capacity graphene, a carbon nanostructure. The product aims to accelerate drug and vaccine development using a new method called cryogenic electron microscopy (“cryo-EM”).

8. Droneversity

Doneversity, founded by microbiologist and drone pilot Ashlee Cooper in 2021, uses educational entertainment as an all-ages workforce development strategy for the growing drone industry. In addition to pilot certifications, programs include a youth drone soccer league. This Wilmington-based company was the first runner-up in the 2023 Swim with the Sharks pitch competition.

7. Rush Roto

Rush Roto was founded by entrepreneur Chris Morris in 2021 as a solution to the time-consuming challenges he faced photographing items for his wife’s e-commerce shop. The app he developed uses AI for a more efficient way to create marketing-worthy photos with a smartphone. The Smyrna-based startup was part of the first gBETA Bronze Valley VentureLab accelerator in Delaware and a 2023 Startup302 funding recipient.

6. Marins Med

This 2024 EDGE STEM grant recipient was founded by Darryl DuBre, Suzen DuBre and Steve Burke in 2021. The company focuses on innovative prosthetic devices, including The ProHensor hook with replaceable cartridge system technology designed by Darryl — an amputee himself with decades of experience using prosthetic devices.

5. Cellergy Pharma

Founded by entrepreneur Ronald P. Dudek and inventor Dr. Mark Ma in 2022, Cellergy Pharma developed novel CAR T cells that target and eliminate the source of allergic disease. The Innovation Space startup’s mission is to cure severe allergic diseases, including asthma and food allergies. In January, Cellergy Pharma received a $300,000 grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

4. infra ai

Cofounders Brandon Kelley and Sean Reed launched infra ai in the DC area in 2022. The company relocated to Wilmington after the Department of Public Works accepted its pitch to run a pilot of its transportation asset data AI service in a small portion of the city. infra ai was also a participant in Delaware’s first gBETA Bronze Valley VentureLab accelerator in 2023.

3. Studio Charter

Short Order Production Co, the company Zach Phillips founded as The Kitchen in 2012, was acquired by Bowstring in 2023. The deal allowed Phillips to focus on Studio Charter, a venture behind customizable video production virtual studios that streamline content creation. Clients so far include ChristianaCare and The Mill. The Wilmington-based startup was launched in 2022.

2. Toivoa

Toivoa, founded by former pharma executive and American Association of People with Disabilities board member Laura Randa in 2021, had a big year in 2023. It participated in the gBETA Bronze Valley VentureLab accelerator and won two grants at Startup302 — not to mention 2023 Invention of the Year in our own Technical.ly Awards. Her app, Rauha, is a mental health telemedicine platform that can be optimized according to a user’s specific disability (or multiple disabilities), making virtual mental health care more accessible to about a quarter of the population.

1. CorriXR Therapeutics

While oncology startup CorriXR is in its pre-trial stage, it’s about as real as a startup can get: Launched in 2022, it’s the very first ChristianaCare spinout. The company is led by founder and chief scientific officer Eric Kmiec, who is also the executive director and CSO of ChristianaCare’s Gene Editing Institute, and CEO Deborah Moorad. CorriXR has received positive feedback from the Food and Drug Administration for its CRISPR-based therapeutics, which involve innovations in gene editing. Recently, Oklahoma City-based Cortado Ventures announced an unspecified investment in CorriXR.

Series: RealLIST Startups / RealLIST
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