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uBeam wireless power’s CEO Meredith Perry steps aside amidst B2B pivot

After repeatedly missing self-imposed deadlines for progress on its wireless charging-at-a-distance phone case, uBeam’s CEO Meredith Perry has decided to shift out of the CEO position and into a board member and senior advisor role. She’d founded the company in 2011 from her dorm room and brought in over $40 million in funding by selling a wide range of elite investors on her vision for a cordless future, including Andreessen Horowitz, Founders Fund, CrunchFund (disclosure: started by TechCrunch’s founder), Marissa Mayer and Mark Cuban. Now rather than trying to build its own consumer products like wireless power transmitters and receivers that could charge your phone from across the room using ultrasound frequencies, uBeam is pivoting to licensing its technology for use in other companies’ products. “Meredith made the decision to step down as CEO. She wanted the company to hire a CEO who had experience in overseeing the rollout of a b2b electronics product,” tweeted one of the startup’s lead investors, Mark Suster of Upfront Capital. Axios’ Dan Primack reported the news earlier today. TechCrunch spoke to Perry but she declined to comment on the record. For the interim, uBeam’s head of HR and finance Jacqueline McCauley, who joined in 2016, will lead the company. In a blog post today, she announced that “Meredith felt it was time to bring on a seasoned executive in the electronics field to lead the company through its commercialization phase. The company has begun a search for this new CEO.” uBeam had wowed investors and AllThingsD conference attendees in 2011 with a demo showing it could deliver at least some power over a distance of a few feet. A source at one point said uBeam was holding talks with top retail and dining chains, and insinuated one of the world’s top phone makers might build on its technology. But the startup made big promises about public demonstrations and the efficiency of its technology it couldn’t keep. In 2015 Perry had told TechCrunch real-life public demos would be ready the next year, which came and went. In 2016, things started to fall apart. The startup’s former…

Nutrigene wants to personalize your vitamins using your genetic code

Vitamins are proving to be a lucrative industry in the United States. Just last year vitamin sales pulled in roughly $37 billion for the U.S. economy. That’s up from $28 billion in 2010. To cash in on this growing market, several startups have popped up in the last few years — including Nutrigene, a startup combining the vitamin business with another lucrative avenue of revenue in consumer DNA analysis. Nutrigene believes your genes may hold the secret to what you might be missing in your diet. The company will send you tailor-made liquid vitamin supplements based on a lifestyle quiz and your DNA. You get your analysis by filling out an assessment on the startup’s website, choosing a recommended package such as “essentials,” “improve performance” or “optimize gut health.” After that you can also choose to upload your DNA profile from 23andMe, then Nutrigene will send you liquid supplements built just for you. Founder Min FitzGerald launched the startup out of Singularity and later accepted a Google fellowship for the idea. Nutrigene then went on to Y Combinator’s winter 2018 class. FitzGerald’s co-founder and CTO Van Duesterberg comes from a biotech and epigenetics background and holds a PhD from Stanford. PhDs and impressive resumes aside, the vitamin and genetics industries are not without controversy. For every study showing that those who eat a balanced diet don’t benefit from supplements, there are just as many highlighting the benefits of taking your vitamins. Also, coupling vitamin therapy with your DNA seems at a glance dubious. However, Dawn Barry, former VP at Illumina and now president of Luna DNA, a biotech company powered by the blockchain, says it could have some scientific underpinnings. But, she cautioned, nutrigenetics is still an early science. Amir Trabelsi, founder of genetic analysis platform Genoox, agrees. We interviewed both Trabelsi and Barry previously when Nutrigene first came on our radar. Trabelsi pointed out these types of companies don’t need to provide any proof. “That doesn’t mean it’s completely wrong,” he told TechCrunch. “But we don’t know enough to say this person should use Vitamin A, for example… There needs to be more trials…

George Church’s genetics on the blockchain startup just raised $4.3 million from Khosla

Nebula Genomics, the startup that wants to put your whole genome on the blockchain, has announced the raise of $4.3 million in Series A from Khosla Ventures and other leading tech VC’s such as Arch Venture Partners, Fenbushi Capital, Mayfield, F-Prime Capital Partners, Great Point Ventures, Windham Venture Partners, Hemi Ventures, Mirae Asset, Hikma Ventures and Heartbeat Labs. Nebula has also has forged a partnership with genome sequencing company Veritas Genetics . Veritas was one of the first companies to sequence the entire human genome for less than $1,000 in 2015, later adding all that info to the touch of a button on your smartphone. Both Nebula and Veritas were cofounded by MIT professor and “godfather” of the Human Genome Project, George Church. The partnership between the two companies will allow the Nebula marketplace, or the place where those consenting to share their genetic data can earn Nebula’s cryptocurrency called “Nebula tokens” to build upon Veritas open-source software platform Arvados, which can process and share large amounts of genetic information and other big data. According to the company, this crossover offers privacy and security for the physical storage and management of various data sets according to local rules and regulations. “As our own database grows to many petabytes, together with the Nebula team we are taking the lead in our industry to protect the privacy of consumers while enabling them to participate in research and benefit from the blockchain-based marketplace Nebula is building,” Veritas CEO Mirza Cifric said in a statement. The partnership will work with various academic institutions and industry researchers to provide genomic data from individual consumers looking to cash in by sharing their own data, rather than by freely giving it as they might through another genomics company like 23andMe . “Compared to centralized databases, Nebula’s decentralized and federated architecture will help address privacy concerns and incentivize data sharing,” added Nebula Genomics co-founder Dennis Grishin. “Our goal is to create a data flow that will accelerate medical research and catalyze a transformation of health care.”

Cytera CellWorks aims to bring cell culture automation to your dinner plate

Cytera CellWorks hopes to revolutionize the so-called “clean meat” industry through the automation of cell cultures — and that could mean one day, if all goes to plan, the company’s products could be in every grocery store in America. Cytera is a ways off from that happening, though. Founded in 2017 by two college students in the U.K., Ignacio Willats and Ali Afshar, Cytera uses robotic automation to configure cell cultures used in things like growing turkey meat from a petri dish or testing stem cells. The two founders — Willats, the events and startups guy and Afshar the scientist, like to do things differently to better configure the lab, as well — like strapping GoPros to lab workers’ heads, for instance. The two came together at the Imperial College of London to run an event for automation in the lab and from there formed their friendship and their company. “At the time, lab automation felt suboptimal,” Afshar told TechCrunch, further explaining he wanted to do something with a higher impact. Cellular agriculture, or growing animal cells in a lab, seems to hit that button and the two are currently enrolled in Y Combinator’s Summer 2018 cohort to help them get to the next step. There’s been an explosion in the lab-made meat industry, which relies on taking a biopsy of animal cells and then growing them in a lab to make the meat versus getting it from an actual living, breathing animal. In just the last couple of years startups like Memphis Meats have started to pop up, offering lab meat to restaurants. Even the company known for its vegan mayo products, Hampton Creek (now called Just), is creating a lab-grown foie gras. Originally, the company was going to go for general automation in the lab, but had enough interest from clients and potential business in just the cell culture automation aspect they changed the name for clarity. Cytera already has some promising prospects, too, including a leading gene therapy company the two couldn’t name just yet. Of course, automation in the lab is nothing new and big pharma has already poured…

Y Combinator invests in HappiLabs to help scientists shop smarter

To create life-saving drugs or groundbreaking technological advancements, scientists first need the proper lab equipment. Everything from intricate and expensive specialized machines to beakers and rubber gloves must be sourced, price compared and ordered by a lab manager before even the first steps toward discovery can take place. But, says Tom Ruginis, CEO and founder of the virtual lab manger startup HappiLabs, the process for finding the best and most cost-effective materials for your lab is far from a standardized process. “The pricing aspect started catching my attention more and more,” Ruginis told TechCrunch. “The profit margin for lab supplies is extraordinarily large. Scientists don’t know that, and even if they know that it’s really hard for them to shop around. There’s nowhere for them to go.” As an ex-PhD student and lab manager himself, Ruginis has first-hand experience with the struggles — and shortcuts — necessary to properly stock your lab. After leaving his PhD program in pharmacology, Ruginis took a job as a salesman for a scientific distributor and saw that even labs that were floors apart were paying drastically different prices for the same basic supplies. Taken aback at how far behind scientific purchasing was from the rest of the retail world, Ruginis began compiling his own spreadsheet of pricing information and, with the help of his then-girlfriend (now wife) Rachel, began designing small price-comparison pamphlets for items like gloves and beakers to distribute to local labs to give them a perspective on the pricing space. “I went to this one lab that I knew was paying too much,” said Ruginis. “I had data showing that a lab three floors up in their building was paying almost half the price. I went straight to [the lab] and showed [them] this. I asked ‘would you give me $10 for this info and if I kept bringing you more pricing info?’ They gave me $10 and in my head that was our first customer.” Ruginis says the pamphlets grew from one page to eight and it wasn’t long after that labs began coming to him directly for purchasing guidance…

Gardening leave: why are offices turning into botanical spaces?

Amazon has built treehouses in its offices and Microsoft employees work in the woods. Companies reveal why they are using plants to boost productivity Most offices have a few plants dotted around the place. Some companies, however, like to take things to extremes. Amazon has treehouses inside its offices, Microsoft employees work in treehouses in the woods; while Timberland’s headquarters has gardens with orchards. The benefits of bringing plants in workspaces are well documented. Researchers have found that as well as brightening up the office environment, plants can reduce sick days and stress. Danica-Lea Larcombe from Australia’s Edith Cowan University wrote in the online publication The Conversation that indoor plants can “scrub” the air of bacteria; remove harmful chemical compounds released by cleaning products; and improve people’s moods. Continue reading…

5 Lessons for Climbing the Life Science Ladder

The life science industry is as large as it is varied: encompassing fields such as pharmaceutical, biomedical technologies, biomedical devices, biotechnology and more and, as such, there are a number of roles and business opportunities you might want to explore. For example, you might want to make a name for yourself as a medical imaging […] The post 5 Lessons for Climbing the Life Science Ladder appeared first on SmallBizClub. Powered by WPeMatico

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