Phas3 Goes From MEDLaunch Project to Start-Up Success
Phas3, a digital health start-up created at Saint Louis University in 2016-17, was sold to a company based in Austin, Texas this week. St. Louis Inno reported the sale of Phas3 to UCardia on Monday.
Phas3 has developed an app that facilitates remote cardiac rehabilitation and patient monitoring. It was created by Lucas Rydberg and Dan Ebeling, who as SLU students participated in the second year of MEDLaunch.
Founded in 2015 by SLU School of Medicine students, MEDLaunch is a nonprofit, biomedical and entrepreneurship incubator in the Chaifetz Center for Entrepreneurship at Saint Louis University. It is the product of collaborative efforts between SLU’s School of Medicine, School of Law, Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business, School of Science and Engineering and the College for Public Health and Social Justice.
“What makes MEDLaunch unique is it is a student-led innovation initiative,” said Jerome Katz, Ph.D., professor of management and MEDLaunch advisory board member. “MEDLaunch connects students from across the campus to problems SLU’s health science professionals face daily. Solving those problems by creating new products and services is tremendously rewarding to the students, professionals and patients at SLU and as Phas3 showed everyone, far beyond.”
Rydberg and Ebeling were both students in the School of Science and Engineering (SSE). The Phas3 team at SLU also included Alex Dieckmann, SSE; Trey Ward, SSE; Catherine Cai, School of Medicine; and Ben Havelka, Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business.
“Lucas and Dan started working on smart-phone-based medical device technology the summer before they started MEDLaunch, so they had a great head start,” said Andrew Hall, D.Sc., associate professor of biomedical engineering and MEDLaunch adviser. “And even though they are both biomedical engineers, each of them became specialized in different aspects of the business, giving them complimentary skill sets early on.”
The MEDLaunch version of Phas3 aimed to address the barriers to cardiac care recovery by providing a product that allows patients to complete cardiac rehabilitation remotely through an app, hoping to increase participation in cardiac rehab programs and decrease associated readmissions.
Rydberg and Ebeling graduated from SLU in 2017 and continued work on Phas3, getting ongoing support from BioSTL and winning both an Arch Grant and the Prime Health Challenge in 2019. They also serve as advisors to current MEDLaunch cohorts.
“Entrepreneurial success is a result of sacrifice, perseverance and grit,” said Lewis Sheats, director of the Chaifetz Center for Entrepreneurship at SLU. “We are proud of Lucas and Dan’s latest accomplishment and success. They serve as great role models for future MEDLaunch teams and representatives of Saint Louis University.”
How MEDLaunch Works
MEDLaunch participants work as multidisciplinary teams under the guidance of clinical and industry mentors to improve the standard of health care in areas including surgical devices, health information technology and medical diagnostics.
Physicians share ideas for improving daily clinical practice, and teams of students tackle those ideas with the aim of creating a practical solution that will improve the practice of medicine.
The arc of a MEDLaunch project follows the school calendar. Teams formed during the fall semester will present their projects in late spring.
- September-October: Problem identification and team formation
- October-December: Initial market evaluation and design approach
- January-April: Business model creation and iterative prototyping
- May: Provisional patent filing and LLC formation
Each team has at least one medical student, one engineering student and one business student. Once formed, the teams work to create a new solution to their problem that can be marketed and produced for everyday use.
The year ends with a Demo Day presentation to local investors and angel networks to obtain seed funding to progress to advanced prototyping, clinical trials and manufacturing.
MEDLaunch’s most recent Demo Day was held in April.