Three Great ACA Member Portfolio Companies are 2017 Luis Villalobos Award Finalists


Anna deTiege, ACA Membership Consultant

The Angel Capital Association is pleased to announce the three finalists for the 2017 Luis Villalobos Award, a national award recognizing ingenuity, creativity, and innovation among startups: DesignMedix, Magnetic Insight, and Peloton Technology. These were among many companies nominated by ACA’s membership of angel investors.

The three finalist companies will be honored and the winner announced April 27 at the 2017 ACA Summit in San Francisco. The award is named in memory of Luis Villalobos, whom angel investors admired nationwide for his active investing and mentoring truly innovative companies.

The World Health Organization considers drug-resistance to be one of the top three threats to human health. Enter DesignMedix, Inc. With its proprietary approach, the Portland, Oregon-based company is developing novel drugs that overcome drug resistance, particularly to treat malaria. This approach has resulted in drug candidates that both cure and prevent malaria, safely and cost-effectively.

Today, every drug available to doctors to treat malaria is showing drug resistance. The DesignMedix malaria cure overcomes drug resistance in all patient samples tested, no matter how resistant to other drugs. It could be an invaluable partner drug to continue to treat malaria effectively, and to reduce the development of drug resistance.

DesignMedix CEO Sandra Shotwell is nationally recognized as an authority on the role of intellectual property in the development of neglected disease products.

On why DesignMedix received her nomination, Angela Jackson of Portland Seed Fund said, “The United Nations and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control see drug resistance as a potential pandemic, where infectious diseases are no longer treatable by current medicines. DesignMedix is committed to reversing this global, life-threatening trend.”

Magnetic Insight has the first new diagnostic imaging technique since the introduction of CT, MRI, and PET over 30 years ago. The Alameda, California, company uses Magnetic Particle Imaging (MPI) to deliver high contrast, safe, and robust imaging. It redefines the ability to develop new therapies, and diagnose and monitor patients. Its new ultrasensitive imaging approach exquisitely detects nanoparticles anywhere in the body over great lengths of time. 

Magnetic Insight’s MPI technique is accelerating new therapy development in immune and stem cell treatments, with immediate implementation in the research market.

Anna Christensen, Magnetic Insight’s President and CEO, has spent the past 16 years commercializing platform technologies in imaging and diagnostics. Most recently, she led the in-vivo imaging business for PerkinElmer Inc. and Caliper Life Sciences as global business leader.

Kate Allison of Sand Hill Angels explained her nomination of Magnetic Insight, saying “The preclinical research market has unmet needs in quantitative cell tracking, monitoring vascular function, and visualizing the immune system unachievable by incumbent technologies. MPI’s imminent pre-clinical applications are tracking cells for therapies, inflammation, and developing translatable diagnostics. Clinical MPI will immediately address a severe need in neuroradiology as CT angiography protocols are being reduced due to high doses of radiation.”

Peloton Technology partners with customers to deliver innovative tools for the trucking industry that save fuel, avoid crashes, and improve operational insight through connectivity, automation, and advanced data analytics. The flagship offering of the Mountain View, California, based company is a patented platooning solution that links the active safety systems of pairs of trucks, and connects them to a cloud-based Network Operations Center that limits platooning to appropriate roads and conditions. 

Peloton’s driver-assistive platooning system solutions also improve the safety of individual trucks by requiring best-in-class forward-collision-avoidance systems and other safety features that are active both in and out of platoon.

Pelaton founder and CEO Josh Switkes has been working on systems to make driving safer and more efficient for the last 13 years. After his work at Stanford University on a variety of vehicle control systems, including guaranteeing safety for lane-keeping assistance and steering wheel haptic feedback, Josh developed production control systems for Volkswagen, Audi, and Tula Technology.

Peloton was nominated by Band of Angels’ Ian Sobieski, who said, “Peloton will revolutionize trucking, the industry that quite literally moves our economy. Its patented platooning solution increases the safety and doubles the bottom line profitability of fleets. Platooning is a novel invention.”

Congratulations to all three companies and the angels who invested in them.  They really are bringing great innovations to our world.  And we know that Luis Villalobos Award finalists and winners are developing great businesses too – I’m reminded that three previous winners of this award were acquired for big bucks last Fall.

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