Wayne State biotech company named among 50 companies to watch in Michigan
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A Wayne State University College of Engineering spinoff company, Advaita Bioinformatics, was recently recognized as one of the 2016 Michigan 50 Companies to Watch, an awards program presented by Michigan Celebrates Small Business. Sorin Draghici, a professor in the college’s Department of Computer Science, founded Advaita in 2005 and is the company’s president and CEO.
The Plymouth-based company was initially started with the goal of commercializing a gene pathway analysis technology developed at Wayne State called Impact Analysis. That technology is currently implemented in Advaita’s flagship product, iPathway-Guide, which allows researchers to identify the gene-signaling pathways that are significantly impacted in a given disease. But with more funding from the National Institutes of Health, Advaita has developed more advanced technologies. Another product, iVariant-Guide, allows researchers to understand the genetic background of an individual and personalize their treatment or better understand the disease.
Advaita’s overall vision is to reduce health care costs, advance personalized medicine and empower researchers through the use of advanced computational analysis tools.
“We are very happy and grateful for this recognition and would like to acknowledge the great support that we received from the department and the College of Engineering, who made it possible for faculty to maintain a successful academic research program while also undertaking successful entrepreneurial activities. I hope Advaita can serve as an example for the many very talented faculty members within the college,” said Draghici, who serves as the associate dean for innovation and entrepreneurship at Wayne State. Draghici is also the director of the James and Patricia Anderson Engineering Ventures Institute, whose mission is to stimulate and promote entrepreneurship and innovation among the faculty and students of the college.
Over the last several years, Advaita has been selected to participate in Michigan I-Corps, a program designed to foster technology entrepreneurship and commercialization, as well as the NIH Commercialization Assistance Program, which provides assistance to recipients of Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer phase II awards who are looking to get their products to market faster. The company garnered more than $4 million in grant funding from NIH as well as $125,000 from the Michigan Emerging Technologies Fund.
Advaita was one of several hundred second-stage companies nominated for the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch awards, a list finalized by judges from the banking, economic development, entrepreneurship development and venture capital communities. Eligibility criteria include having between six to 99 full-time equivalent employees, generating $750,000 to $50 million in annual revenue or working capital from investors or grants, being headquartered in Michigan, and demonstrating the intent and capacity to grow.