Industry > Technology Transfer > MEMStim


Founded: 2011
Founder: Angelique Johnson, Christopher Cadotte, Andrew Smith, Prof. Kensall Wise
Product/Service: Customizable micro-fabricated stimulators
Location: Ann Arbor, MI

In the News

April 28, 2011

U-M Spinout MEMStim Seeks Its Fortune In Neurostimulation Devices

Though Angelique Johnson is pleased her team won the $27,000 top prize  in the Michigan Business Challenge earlier this year, the University of Michigan student, who’s earning a doctorate in electrical engineering, says the competition was not just about money.

“Coming from the engineering side, I had a piece of technology, I did not know how to turn that into a company,” Johnson says. “I knew it was exciting, I knew it was useful, but I did not know how to commercialize it.”

Over 50 student startups competed in this year’s challenge, in which students must develop a business plan in four months.

Johnson’s technology, which she has been developing for several years, is a platform for creating electrode leads or wires that can be easily integrated into devices that shoot electric pulses into a patient’s nervous system. Doctors today use such stimulation devices to treat everything from pain and obesity to depression and Parkinson’s disease.

Currently scientists fuse wires together under a microscope to create the individual leads, a process that’s slow, expensive and susceptible to human error, according to Johnson. But with her technology, medical device makers can produce multiple leads at a time.

“We’re taking what used to be a hand assembled process to a fully automated system,” she says. “Basically it’s a room full of robotic machinery so we’re just kind of moving the technology into the next century.”

Johnson and her business partner, U-M business student Christopher Cadotte, are spinning the technology out of the university into a company called MEMStim. So far, the two entrepreneurs have developed an early stage prototype for pre-clinical testing and hope to have full scale a prototype to ship to customers in the next year.

The technology’s first prototype will focus on a hearing device called a cochlear implant. But Johnson says her technology can produce wires for a variety of applications.

“We’re really enabling the next generation of technology for what we’re producing,” she says. “They’ve reached a limit of what they can do. They can’t move to new exciting applications like curing blindness.”

In the meantime, MEMStim will the spend next four to six months researching the market, forging customer relationships, and wooing investors. Cadotte says they’re exploring venture capital firms and grants.

Johnson and Cadotte say MEMstim reflects the university’s efforts to encourage collaboration between engineering and business students. They met initially at a Zell Lurie Institution “Meet and Mingle” event and each brings a different skill set to the company.

Growing the company, the two students say, is more than just an academic project.

“It’s really a way to gain experience and it’s grown from there,” Cadotte says. “It’s taken on a whole life of its own and it’s taken what I’ve learned in the classroom to the next level.”

© Xconomy.

April 20, 2011

MEMStim takes first prize in the Michigan Business Challenge

Angelique Johnson (MSE PhD EE '07, '11) and her new company, MEMStim, took top honors and prize money in the 2011 Michigan Business Challenge and Eugene Applebaum Dare to Dream Grant program for U-M startups. Ms. Johnson partnered with MBA students Christopher Cadotte and Andrew Smith in the competition. She studied under Prof. Ken Wise, and conducted research as a member of the Center for Wireless Integrated Microsystems (WIMS).

MEMStim make customizable micro-fabricated stimulators. The company plans to sell MEMS electrode leads to medical device companies for integration into their targeted nerve stimulation devices. Ultimately, the company is committed to improving the standard of patient care in neurostimulation. The team intends to use the award money to quantify regulatory risks and further develop a prototype of the device.

The team recieved $20K for the Pryor-Hale award for Best Business, $5,000 for the Williamson Award for Outstanding Business and Engineering Team, $2,000 for the Outstanding Presentation Award from the Michigan Business Challenge. In addition, they received a $1,500 assessment grant from the Dare to Dream Grant Program for the purpose of establishing the feasibility of their business. They followed up this win with a second prize win at the San Diego State University Venture Challenge.

Another team from EECS, Reveal Design, earned $2,000 for Outstanding Presentation. This company develops and licenses a formal verification software tool to chip design firms. Participating in the contest were Zaher Andraus, CSE research fellow, and his team members Vimal Bhalodia (MBA '11) and Matthew Neagle (MBA '11). The team followed this with a win at Carnegie Mellon University's McGinnis Venture Competition, on the Technology Track.

The Michigan Business Challenge is a four-month, multi-round contest designed to help students move their ideas from rough concepts to concrete business plans. More than 50 teams competed this year. The Dare to Dream Grant Program provides additional funds to help students develop their business plan and work toward launching their company.

More Information

"Zell Lurie Institute Awards $106,300 to University of Michigan Students Through the Michigan Business Challenge and Dare to Dream Startup Grant Program" - PR Newswire

"UM Gives Students $106,300 In Startup Grant Programs" - CBS Detroit