TechPortal Company Scores SBIR Funding

By Anna Lynn Spitzer

Irvine, Ca, January 14th, 2014 -- Calit2 TechPortal tenant Biopico Systems is the recipient of a 6-month, $150,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I grant from the National Science Foundation. The funding will allow the startup to test the feasibility of an innovative method for detecting the characteristics of large numbers of stem cells.

Biopico, launched in May 2011, develops biomedical testing devices for improving quality of life through disease diagnostics and therapeutics. The Phase I funding for “High Throughput Characterization of Stem Cells Using Spatial Domain Stimulus Response” will help the company, which uses microfluidics, electrical sensing and signal processing, to begin characterizing large numbers of stem cells by tracking their physiology as they flow through microfluidic channels fitted with tiny electrodes. The specific signals from the cells as they pass through the channels, will yield clues about their differentiated states and conditions.

The technology is particularly useful for therapeutic and medical applications because cells can be sorted and analyzed without using chemical markers, which may damage them.
Biopico President John Collins explained the company’s long-term goal is to develop a novel cell cytometer, which could sort stem cells for cell therapies. “This label-free sorting technology has the potential to contribute immensely to regenerative medicine,” he said.

NSF’s Small Business Innovation Research program is “highly competitive,” according to the program website, and provides funding to small businesses that have the potential for commercialization. Phase I funding is meant to establish the technology’s technical merit, feasibility and commercial potential.

“It is an honor to receive this funding,” said Collins, “since NSF considers our technology as very innovative and anticipates high gain with its development.” own unique attractions: wireless, biotech, and bioengineering. These are the reasons we're here."