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Start-ups to get $700k, one for a needle-free blood drawing device

Philadelphia's start-up fund, created last year to support local fledgling companies, will invest $700,000 in four more start-ups, including a group developing a medical device for needle-free blood drawing.

Philadelphia's start-up fund, created last year to support local fledgling companies, will invest $700,000 in four more start-ups, including a group developing a medical device for needle-free blood drawing.

Velano Vascular, a medical device company started by Wharton graduates, received $400,000 from the fund for a device patented by founders Eric Stone and Dr. Pitou Devgon for drawing blood from hospitalized patients.

The technology works with an IV, so technically one needle prick is still involved.

"Almost every hospital inpatient has an IV and they're wonderful for putting fluid in but not for pulling blood out," said Stone. This technology - not yet FDA approved - would enable the blood to be drawn directly through the IV.

Stone said the company's research shows an average hospital stay in the United States lasts five days and patients tend to have blood drawn 1.5 times a day, meaning they could be stuck seven to 10 times during one hospital visit.

The device could be particularly useful for the elderly, diabetics or children, said Stone, who was in and out of hospitals with Crohn's disease as a child.

"It's perfect for that 8-year-old at CHOP who doesn't want to go through it again, who's flailing as his parents try to hold him down," Stone said.

The device would also benefit the practitioners, Stone said by decreasing the need for more needles, cutting down on cost and health risks.

In addition to Velano Vascular, four companies will receive $100,000 each and a fifth, which is not yet public, will also receive funds.

The start-ups are:

- Squareknot, a social network for do-it-yourself aficionados where people can share how-to guides, ideas and skills.

- Tesorio, which develops a personalized cashflow management program for companies, concentrating on early payment discounts.

- VeryApt, a phone app and website combining user reviews and data analytics to deliver personalized apartment recommendations.

The announcement Wednesday came one year after Startup PHL's first and only investment in Real Food Works, a healthy meal delivery service, which received $200,000.

The $6 million fund is managed by First Round Capital, which invested $3 million to match $3 million from the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp., the city's economic development agency.

"Philadelphia is interested in the start-up world and wishes to promote it," said Alan Greenberger, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development. "The goal is to send the message that Philadelphia is a great city for start ups and to help support the organizations that are supporting entrepreneurs."

Startup PHL also awards grant money to organizations that provide training and programming to entrepreneurs. Ten organizations have received more than $200,000 through the Call for Ideas grant program. The deadline to apply for a third round of grants is Jan. 2.

Greenberger said there's no projection on when or if PIDC or First Round will see returns on their investments. The city does not handle the selection process.

"It's important to us that the private sector partner, who has expertise, does the selecting," Greenberger said. "We certainly have an interest in seeing money return to them with some earnings but that's not the major point here."

The four investments announced Wednesday bring the total amount given to local companies to $1 million.

jterruso@phillynews.com

856-779-3876

@juliaterruso

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