UConn-grown startup aims to develop retinal implant
Rocky Hill, Conn., October 3, 2011– Connecticut Innovations (CI), the state’s quasi-public authority responsible for technology investing and innovation development, today announced that it has committed $40,000 in financing to LambdaVision Inc. of Farmington, Conn., through its Pre-Seed Fund. The financing will be used to conduct proof-of-concept studies, to validate the use of an ion-mediated artificial retina for restoring sight. LambdaVision has secured required matching funds from the University of Connecticut Research and Development Corporation.
“We are grateful to be awarded this pre-seed funding from Connecticut Innovations. These funds will allow LambdaVision to begin critical proof-of-concept studies in collaboration with the Center for Innovative Visual Rehabilitation at the Boston VA Medical Center,” stated Nicole Wagner, CEO of LambdaVision. “The high-resolution, protein-based retinal prosthesis, currently in the early stages of development by LambdaVision, has the potential to restore vision and improve the quality of life for those patients affected by retinal degenerative diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP).”
LambdaVision, a startup medical device company created by the University of Connecticut Research and Development Corporation, is developing a protein-based retinal implant intended to provide sight to patients blinded by photoreceptor degeneration in the outer retina – specifically, individuals affected by age-related macular degeneration and related diseases. The core technology was developed by Robert Birge, Ph.D., a University of Connecticut professor of biological and physical chemistry, who, along with students in his lab, founded LambdaVision in 2009.
“Assisting startups with proof of concept is an important role of our Pre-Seed Fund – one that will help launch new technology companies in our state,” said Charlie Moret, CI managing director, business development. “LambdaVision is a good example of a startup with very promising technology, with the potential to offer substantial benefits to those suffering from serious vision problems.”
CI’s Pre-Seed Fund supports the formation of new Connecticut technology companies. The fund provides loans of up to $150,000 to Connecticut-based startup and early-stage technology companies. Funding may be used for a wide range of startup expenses such as accounting, legal, intellectual property development, technology and prototype development, business plan development, technology assessments, market analyses, market entry strategy development, and hiring of advisors and employees. CI’s team also provides mentoring and will help coordinate access to resources.
The Pre-Seed Fund is an important component of the state’s high-tech economic development engine, as it provides an avenue for initial startup funding for companies and entrepreneurs emerging from universities. The fund dovetails nicely with other technology startup resources like the CTech business incubators, the Connecticut Angel Investor Tax Credit (which stimulates private investments in early-stage companies) and private capital resources.