Carolina Launch Pad adds four new ventures to its 2011 class

CHAPEL HILL, NC, May 24, 2011—New companies developing technologies to improve patient care in hospitals, combat childhood obesity and create a personalized, data rich version of the Internet will join the Carolina Launch Pad, UNC Chapel Hill’s pre-commercial technology startup incubator, beginning July 1.

Started in 2009 by RENCI (Renaissance Computing Institute), the UNC Chapel Hill Office of Technology Development and UNC Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, Carolina Launch Pad offers a helping hand to UNC Chapel Hill faculty students and staff looking to turn their ideas and technical prototypes into viable technology businesses. Each Launch Pad company receives office space at RENCI for one year, where they have wireless Internet connectivity, conference facilities, office supplies and easy access to consultations with RENCI technical staff.  Launch Pad participants also benefit from coaching, mentoring and presentations by professionals with OTD, the business school and the local business community.

The Launch Pad Selection Advisory Committee selected four new participant companies in early May. They are:

  • Keona Health, a company developing a patient decision support system called Insight Engine that gives patients instant, personalized health advice and makes it possible for patients to resolve about 10 percent of their health problems at home. Triage nurses review each case that uses the system, but generally can complete that review five times faster and with more comprehensive safety checks than without the system. When patients do need to visit their physician or enter the hospital, they enjoy reduced delays and wait times.  The system was developed by a team from UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University with funding from the National Institutes of Health. Javed Mostafa, director of health informatics at UNC Chapel Hill and a professor in the UNC School of Information and Library Sciences, serves as the company’s chairman and scientific advisor.
  • Augment Medical, a startup founded by four graduate students in the joint UNC-NC State University department of biomedical engineering, builds a communication platform called PatientLink. The system gives hospital patients who are disabled or bed-ridden more control of their environment and an easy way to communicate with nurses and other healthcare providers. PatientLink uses a variety of input devices, a tablet computer interface and software that processes patient input, provides feedback to the patient and wirelessly communicates with nurse call systems. Timothy Martin, Richard Daniels, Astor Liu, and Wenbo Zhang lead the company.
  • Knowit, Inc., a company that is creating an interactive Web-based knowledge and reputation management platform. The Knowit system aggregates knowledge that the user creates and consumes—everything from blog posts to Twitter updates to journal articles—so it can be shared with others, used to make connections and form collaborations, and indexed for search engines. The Knowit platform aims to refocus the Web around user controlled, high-value information and to enable users to easily take their reputations into their business and social networks. Eric Butter, a 2011 graduate in biostatistics, founded the company with Jeff Huber and Nash Yielding.
  • Sqord (formerly Rascals) is a health-focused e-gaming company that aims to make physical activity addictive for kids by creating a fun and competitive online world where points can be earned for real-world play.  Initially the company will launch an accelerometer that kids will wear like a watch. The accelerometer will communicate with a website to track activity and award points, gift cards, virtual goods and other rewards. Sqord is set to begin pilot testing with several local youth organizations this summer using a device provided by Texas Instruments. Coleman Greene, a recent MBA graduate of UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, leads the venture.

The four companies will join ongoing Launch Pad participants Rheomics, Inc. and Wavebridge Technology, Inc. Rheomics is building a patented system that measures the stiffness and viscosity of blod clots, biofluids and cancer cells in order to discover the underlying causes of diseases, including many cancers, quickly diagnose disease, and develop treatments. Rheomics Inc., is led by Richard Superfine, Taylor-Williams Distinguished Professor in the department of physics and astronomy, Russell Taylor, research professor in computer science with an appointment in UNC’s curriculum in Applied Sciences and Engineering (CASE), and Richard Spero, a post doctoral associate in the physics and astronomy department.

Wavebridge Technology develops immersive audio technologies for video games, virtual reality and indoor and outdoor acoustics. The company grew out of research conducted in the UNC Chapel Hill computer science department and holds exclusive rights to three patents related to sound technology. Anish Chandak, a Ph.D. student in the computer science department, and Dinesh Manocha, Phi Delta Theta/Mason Distinguished Professor of computer science, lead Wavebridge Technologies.

For more information, visit the Carolina Launch Pad website.

Related news release: UNC professor launches Keona Health

Carolina Launch Pad and RENCI support the Innovate@Carolina Roadmap, UNC’s plan to help Carolina become a world leader in launching university-born ideas for the good of society. To learn more about the roadmap, visit