Monday, May 2, 2016

CartilaGen LLC, a University of Iowa spin-out company developing innovative treatments for knee osteoarthritis (OA), recently placed first and second in three different business competitions for Chinese investors on the East Coast.

The company won first place at the Columbia University CSSA US-China Start-Up Competition in Boston, receiving a prize of $5,000. CartilaGen competed against more than 50 teams, coming out ahead of both the second place winner from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the third place team from New York University (NYU).

At the Harvard China Pitch competition, during the Harvard China Forum April 8-10, CartilaGen competed against nearly 200 teams and received a second prize award of $2,000. First and third place winners were both from MIT. The competition was sponsored by the Discovery Investment Group, whose founders come from top investment banks including Goldman Sachs, UBS, and Startup-Bootcamp.

CartilaGen received another second place prize of $5,000 at the Chinese University Alumni Development Forum and Entrepreneurship Competition in New York City on April 30. The first place winner was from Harvard University, and the third place winner was from Princeton University.

The competitions gave the company a chance to connect directly with potential investors, partners, and mentors.

“We got exposed to many top investors from China, as well as government officials, which gave us opportunities to start conversation with them, and generated mutual interest,” said founder Frank Yu.

The company has been invited to visit biotech incubators and venture capital firms in China this summer to discuss collaboration opportunities.

Yu, a former graduate student now pursing his postdoc degree at Harvard, founded CartilaGen with undergraduate student Jaison Marks, a current senior in biomedical engineering. The company is a spin-out from research in the lab of James Martin, Associate Professor of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation in the UI Carver College of Medicine, where Yu and Marks worked together on a research team, developing an injectable gel to encourage self-healing of cartilage. The two also participated in UI Venture School where they developed a business plan for the product.

CartilaGen is a leading innovator in preventative therapy for the onset of OA and is expanding its product line out of two patented or patent-pending technologies, focusing on developing drug-eluting biomaterials, disease modifying therapeutics, and wearable drug delivery devices to treat OA.

UI Ventures, part of the University of Iowa Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development (OVPR&ED), offers information and resources to help companies find funding they qualify for, including federal grants, state funding, the UI commercialization GAP fund, loans, angel investment, and venture capital For more information, visit

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