Southeast Life Sciences cultivates, convenes, and connects the Southeast entrepreneurial ecosystem to foster life science innovation in promising companies throughout the region from investors across the country. 


Our investor colleagues count on us to present to them the highest potential life science investments the southeastern United States has to offer. 


Thanks to the focused, dedicated work of our selection committee and judges, we proudly present the winners of PitchRounds at AdvanSE 2022 winners.


“I have been honored to judge what was a very tough competition as this was the best slate of early stage business presentations that I’ve seen in over 15 years of PitchRound competitions,” said Southeast Life Sciences Board Member and HealthQuest Capital Venture Partner Tom Callaway. 


“It was difficult to choose a winner at this year’s Pitch Round Competition due to a plethora of excellent companies and game-changing innovations,” said Valerie Darling, CEO of Life Science Management Consultants. “In the end, it came down to ‘investability’ – the company that yielded high likelihood for an expedient return on investment with a first-to-market, unique product likely to receive reimbursement for a disease state or medical condition with no other options that represented significant healthcare cost and market potential.”


Ultimately, the judges deemed Nephrodite and Plakous Therapeutics as the winners in their respective categories.


Based in Winston-Salem, NC, “Plakous Therapeutics has a unique offering that will be reimbursed; a platform biotherapeutic to prevent the rare pediatric disease, Necrotizing Enterocolitis, a true unmet medical need with no other product available,” Darling said. “NEC afflicts 6% of the 50,000 babies born annually in the U.S weighing less than 3 pounds and carries a 30% mortality rate, represents $8.0B in overall healthcare costs, and 20% of annual NICU expenses. The therapeutic has received rare pediatric disease and orphan drug designations from the FDA, guaranteeing reimbursement. The judges found Plakous to have high investment potential.


“Nephrodite addresses a market with very few entrants: dialysis and End Stage Renal Disease, with a unique offering, a combined implantable and wearable device, [that] could represent a change in the way End-Stage Renal Disease and dialysis care is delivered. As a kidney replacement solution, HollyTM could return independence to dialysis patients by eliminating the need for ‘in-center’ hemodialysis and reducing the immobility required for home and peritoneal dialysis. This offers mobility and independence to patients with low quality of life due to having to spend three days a week in dialysis, especially as many of these patients have difficulty accessing dialysis due to socioeconomic conditions. A true game-changer.”


New for the 2022 edition, Keiretsu Forum’s Mid-Atlantic and South-East regions committed to providing pitch opportunities to both regions for the winners of the PitchRounds competition. Plakous and Nephrodite will enjoy this opportunity. Historically, 80 to 90 percent of companies that are asked into due diligence at Keiretsu enter into funding agreements as well. In 2021, Keiretsu Forum Mid-Atlantic and South-East regional members invested over $13.1 M in 45 companies. In addition to the winners, co-finalists Lineus Medical and Luminelle receive admission to an upcoming Keiretsu workshop on valuation, term sheets, and due diligence.


“Nearly every attendee including investors from which we heard described the 2022 class of PitchRounds at AdvanSE as the strongest to date,” said Southeast Life Sciences Board Co-Chair and Silicon Valley Bank Director, Life Sciences, Scott McCarty. “Our post event attendee survey validated this sentiment. 


“We are grateful for the tireless work of PitchRounds Chair Russell Douglas, the PitchRounds committee members, mentors, recruiters and judges for helping us achieve our mission of presenting the finest the southeast has to offer in investable life science opportunities.”


2022 PitchRounds at AdvanSE Committee, Mentors & Judges

Ashley Hancock – Innovetica

Barry Etra – Keiretsu Forum Atlanta

Donna Edmonds – Brainbox

Greg Carlin – Meunier Carlin and Curfman, PA

Harry Venezia – HealthCare Capital

James Bell – Greater Bentonville Economic Develoment

Jason Rupp – Acclinate

Jeff McIntrye – Oblon, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt

Lee Burnes – Avanos

Miles Hall – Meunier Carlin and Curfman, PA

Paul Gianneschi – Hatch Medical

Russell Douglas – Verso Strategies

Scott McCarty – Silicon Valley Bank

Steven King – BioTN Mentor Network

Todd Creech – HealthQuest Capital

Tom Callaway – HealthQuest Capital

Paul Snyder – Write2Market


Other Judges, Mentors, Key Volunteers to the Pitch Competition

Amy Sturdivant – 58, Inc

Bill Dull – BioTech Executive

Chris Lee – Huxley Medical

David Vulcano – Music City Angels

Don Prather – Meunier Carlin and Curfman, PA

Grace Powers Powers Regulatory Consulting

Howard Lubert – Keiretsu Forum Mid-Atlantic & Southeast

Ib Badejo – Johnson & Johnson

Jim Stefansic – Cumberland Emerging Technologies

Karthik Gopalakrishnan – University of Alabama at Birmingham

Kathy Meserve – NC Biotechnology Center

Kyp Sirinakis – Epidarex Capital

Mark Samuels – TendoNova

Mathew Miessau – Epidarex Capital

Mathew White – BioTech Exec

Mike Carnes – NC Biotechnology Center

Randy Scott – HealthQuest Capital

Robert (Bob) Creeden – UVA Seed Fund & New Ventures

Russell Allen – BioTech Exec

Ryan O’Quinn – Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner

Tom Fagley – Hughes, Pitman & Gupton LLP

Valerie Darling – Life Sciences Management Consultants, Tings Capital