By: Rebekah Tilley

VIDA Diagnostics Inc., a medical software and services company based in the UI BioVentures Center and created through research at the UI College of Engineering, recently announced the company raised $5.1 million in Series B funding.

“Our success in raising Series B funding certainly implies market and investor confidence in the growth opportunity for precision pulmonary informatics,” said VIDA CEO Susan Wood, who led the company though its early gap funding and Series A funding stages. “It also signifies another local win for Iowa because it’s a good opportunity for job creation in Iowa.”

VIDA provides software for the visualization and assessment of CT lung imaging and a core lab that provides the quality control and oversight. The University of Iowa Research Foundation licensed VIDA’s software and intellectual property. The company was co-founded by UI Professor Eric Hoffman, radiology, internal medicine and biomedical engineering;  Milan Sonka, professor of electrical and computer engineering; Joseph Reinhardt, professor of biomedical engineering; and Geoffrey McLennan, professor of internal medicine, radiology and biomedical engineering. McLennan passed away in 2010. 

Wood said additional infusion of VIDA’s Series B capital will allow the company to invest in commercialization, sales, marketing, services, continued technology development, and to expand its management team. VIDA made its first clinical commercial sale in Jan. 2016 to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and since then expanded rapidly to other clinics both in the United States and overseas.

Supporting university-born startups are increasingly becoming fuel for local, regional and national economic engines. VIDA is a case study of the state’s growing strategic public and private investment in biotechnology. As a recent article in The Scientist details, these investments have added significantly to Iowa’s economy. In 2014, VIDA received a substantial boost through a $2 million investment by Des Moines-based venture capitalist firm Next Level Ventures coupled with a $500,000 loan through the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Demonstration Fund.

The University of Iowa is one of the major players in this statewide movement and well positioned to continue gaining momentum. With resources such as the nationally recognized University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics medical complex, the rising biomedical engineering department that added a specialized medical device design laboratory in fall 2016, and the Top-50 MBA program with a strong emphasis on entrepreneurship, the UI’s campus culture is positioned to continue to be a strategic economic asset going forward.  

“One of the benefits is the University of Iowa is it has a world-renounced pulmonary hospital,” said Wood. “Because of that, there is a lot of innovation and intellectual property associated with the university. Our job was taking advantage of that opportunity, putting it into a corporate envelope and bringing the intellectual property to market.”

Wood said she believes strongly in the vast resources within the state of Iowa – especially its people.

“If we do our job here to push forward this opportunity within the state it can only create more opportunities for other talented STEM-trained people,” said Wood. “That is what we want to do: create economic growth. Not just in the area. We touch 35 countries around the world and we can increase our footprint both domestically, internationally and certainly within the state. It’s not just an Iowa story; it’s really an international story.”

The UI Research Foundation and UI BioVentures Center are part of the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development, which provides resources and support to researchers and scholars at the University of Iowa and to businesses across Iowa with the goal of forging new frontiers of discovery and innovation and promoting a culture of creativity that benefits the campus, the state, and the world. More at http://research.uiowa.edu, and on Twitter: @DaretoDiscover.