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Innovation & Startups

What you missed at the 3 Rivers Venture Fair

What do you get when you put 34 startups together with more than 600 investors, business leaders and other entrepreneurs, and toss in 14 featured inventors from Pittsburgh universities? 
Creative sparks, cutting-edge technologies and, hopefully, lots of venture capital, says Kelly Szekjo, president of Pittsburgh Venture Capital Association, the organization that staged the 3 Rivers Venture Fair that was held last week at the Lexus Club at PNC Park.
While it's too soon to tell how successful this year's event was in terms of dollars raised, many expressed excitement for the technology showcase, a first this year, which featured innovative life science and technology inventions by Pitt and CMU students who gave 3-minute pitches. Among the inventions was Classroom Salon, which turns online reading by students into a communal classroom experience, to Nano-pathology, an optical cancer detection technology.
The big winner of the American Idol-like competition was Sanna Gaspard, a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from CMU, who is developing a patent-pending, low-cost, non-invasive device, the Rubitect, capable of detecting early stage pressure ulcers. Gaspard took first place, including $2,500, and generated a buzz for the device, which would save hospitals $120,000 a year with a minimal seed investment of $500,000. 
"While they were very early stage, the 14 spin-out technologies developed from the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University that we showcased were well received," says Szekjo. "Investors were quite enthusiastic about a number of the 34 presenting companies so I am eager to see how this excitement translates into actual dollars invested."  
Since 2002, the 3RVF has provided a capital-raising forum for more than 175 companies that have gone on to raise more than $340 million as a direct result of the fair.
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Kelly Szekjo, 3RVF
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