Starting Fires Part II

By Shelby Cate

The second half of this years FiReStarter cohort was introduced and briefly interviewed by Ed Butler in an afternoon session, ahead of this evening’s FiReStarter reception.

Metabolon President and CEO, John Ryals, spoke about his company’s ability to study metabolomics through their technology, which can detect hundreds of biomarkers from a single biological sample. They have collaborated in over 5,000 research studies, resulting in over 550 peer reviewed publications. Today, Metabolon announced a new test of about 65 inherited metabolic disorders, which could shorten a diagnosis that usually takes months into a few weeks. Ryals also sees applications for many other diseases, including diabetes. “We think this will really change the people look at their health,” said Ryals, “It’s a major step to prevention.”

Soroush Nazarpour, President and CEO of NanoXplore spoke about his company’s expanding use of graphene. Graphene is a new and advanced material useable for a variety of applications.

“We are now active in two markets, plastics and lithium ion batteries,” said Nazarpour

Graphene is incorporated into plastics for transportation, electronic packaging, and structural material applications and in the cathodes and anodes in lithium ion batteries. Nazarpour sees a bright future for the company.

“We’ve been around for about four years and we increase revenue by five-fold every year,” he said.

Talbot Jaeger, founder and Chief Technologist of NovaWurks wants to democratize the space industry. NovaWurks has created a mass produced product that can be used to build spacecraft on the order of the cost of a car rather than in the billion dollar range. The product is intended as a lego-like building block that can scale as projects are successful.  

“We’re trying to enable the next generation of dreamers,” Jaeger said.

ORIG3N, a regenerative medicine biotechnology company, was introduced by CEO Robin Y. Smith. ORIG3N is the able to reprogram blood cells into pluripotent stem cells and trigger them to grow into different types of cells, such as heart cells, for example, which they can grow on a plate and study to learn about the heart of the blood donor. ORIG3N has collected a large bank of donor samples, which can be used as normal controls, and is larger than all other similar banks combined, says Smith. The company is currently selling personalized genetic tests directly to consumers based on lifestyle, such as fitness assessments.

Caitlin Cameron, Chair and CEO of OtoNexus Medical Technologies, Inc. spoke about her company’s product, an ultrasound based medical device for the accurate diagnosis of middle ear infections. Ultrasound is used to detect the viscosity of the fluid in the middle ear to diagnosis the infection, which occurs in 93% percent of children and may recur up to a dozen times. Cameron said that middle ear infections are the “number one reason for antibiotics in kids, for surgery in kids, but studies have repeatedly shown doctors get it wrong 50% of the time” and that her product can change that.

To discover more or read other articles from the conference, visit or our Medium blog.