A team from Stony Brook University won the SUNY Startup Summer School (S4) Class of 2021 Demo Day quick pitch competition on August 11, designed to showcase grant proposals and research of 153 SUNY students and faculty in the emerging technologies fields. The winning startup, Orchid Imaging, is led by David Gu, SUNY Empire Innovation Professor in SBU’s Department of Computer Science; Rong Zhao, director of the Software Systems Division at Stony Brook’s Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology (CEWIT); and Shikui Chen, associate professor in Stony Brook’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.
“Winning this pitch competition means a great deal to us,” said Professor Zhao, Orchid’s commercialization lead. “We are immensely grateful for the unique opportunities and much-needed resources offered by SUNY and the University for us to pursue innovations and entrepreneurship.”
Orchid Imaging was formed in 2020 to commercialize 3D imaging technologies invented at Stony Brook University by Professor Gu, which includes a high-performance 3D scanner and an image analysis software based on his research in computational conformal geometry.
Through numerous grants funded by federal agencies and industry sponsors, Gu has been developing medical applications for many years. For example, in virtual colonoscopy, companies such as GE and Siemens have licensed from SBU his conformal flattening method for CT image registration and polyp detection. Adding to his software innovations, Gu has designed and prototyped multiple generations of 3D scanner hardware in his lab at CEWIT. Stony Brook University’s Intellectual Property Partners (IPP) office has filed a patent application on this invention, which Orchid has signed an option agreement to license and commercialize.
“3D scanning creates an extremely accurate digital twin for doctors to evaluate the patient in a more insightful way,” explained Professor Gu. “A digital twin is a virtual representation of a person, object or process that provides a bridge between the physical and digital worlds. Our technology precisely captures and automatically compares the patient’s skin, allowing doctors to identify and measure changes both efficiently and effectively.”
Orchid’s focus is early detection of skin cancer, the most common cancer in the United States. The company is partnering with Stony Brook Dermatology and other clinics to develop a 3D full-body scanning system and to demonstrate that its skin analysis software can identify and track nevi at a level of accuracy that makes this technology feasible for skin cancer screening. This technology can also be used by orthodontists, oral surgeons and plastic surgeons for treatment planning, evaluation and adjustment, thereby improving the clinical outcome and patient satisfaction.
“Stony Brook University supports and nurtures young startups through our Economic Development incubator system. Our Centers of Excellence, supported through NYSTAR funding, help to develop and foster great ideas and research,” said Peter Donnelly, Associate Vice President for Technology Development. “Dr. Zhao and his team at Orchid have begun their journey to success, and Stony Brook is proud to be a part of this journey and help in any way we can.”
“Being an entrepreneur takes a strong team working together collaboratively, and that’s especially the case with breakthrough research,” said SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras. “Programs like the SUNY Startup Summer School help to give our students, faculty and staff opportunities where they wouldn’t have them otherwise. Our SUNY participants are helping spur innovation crucial to society. I’m excited by what we’re doing — and we need to do more. This is where we give students — no matter their background — opportunities to succeed. My congratulations to this year’s winners from Stony Brook University and Upstate Medical, as well as all the participants that made this year’s competition a success.”
S4 provides faculty, students and staff with the knowledge and networks that will enable them to commercialize breakthrough technology, and offers virtual accelerated entrepreneurial education and training for participants to help them secure the initial funding needed to get their technology to market.
Orchid Imaging, in addition to earning a $10,000 S4 Technology Accelerator Fund Catalyst Investment, will also receive follow-on support from SUNY to identify and write strong proposals for grant funding, which will allow the team to continue commercializing its technology.