April’s 2018 BioHealth Capital Region Crab Trap, an annual pitch competition, featured five Maryland-area startups vying for its $10,000 award.

For the third year in a row, a company associated with Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures has taken the top prize by demonstrating the highest commercial potential to an expert judging panel. This year’s winner, Galen Robotics, received $10,000, business mentoring and incubation space in Montgomery County, Maryland or Prince William County, Virginia.

Baltimore-based Galen Robotics won for its development of an affordable, configurable and intuitive-to-use microsurgical robot. The Galen platform is designed to assist surgeons with minimally-invasive applications in neurosurgery, ENT and cardio.

Galen Robotics president and CEO Bruce Lichorowic says the idea driving their company is to have a robot that can help out during challenging surgeries by holding high-precision instruments while the surgeon retains control, similar to how power steering works in a car. This Galen technology is currently classified as an experimental medical device, and the company anticipates its first submission to the FDA within the next 12 months.

“Additionally, the Galen robot is expected to aid surgeons with guidance, keeping their instruments steady during long procedures while reducing tremor,” Lichorowic said. “Our focus is on becoming an assistant to surgeons, not a replacement for surgeons.”

Galen and other finalists gave presentations at the BioHealth Capital Region Forum Event on April 24, 2018 where they were scored on technical feasibility, marketing/strategy, leadership team and financial/projections.

The technology applied by Galen Robotics is licensed through Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures, the intellectual property administration center of the Johns Hopkins University. In addition to serving as the licensing, patent and technology commercialization office for Johns Hopkins researchers and inventors, JHTV also supports the growth of startup companies in and around the university and is an active liaison to parties interested in leveraging university research or materials for academic or corporate endeavors.

The Crab Trap pitch competition is open to applicants from Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia. Previous  Crab Trap-winning companies associated with JHTV include LifeSprout, which is developing the next-generation of synthetic soft tissue substitutes for aesthetic and reconstructive medicine, and Sonavex, a developer of novel ultrasound solutions for visualizing and quantifying critical clinical data to improve outcomes and reduce costs of new surgical applications.

Lichorowic explained Galen continues working on commercializing their technology. In the meantime, they’ll be using the Crab Trap prize money to reinvest in Baltimore.

“We’re not using the award for a party,” he says. “We’re putting it right back into Hopkins and Baltimore for further product development and local staffing.”

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