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Westchester County Biosciences Accelerator Pitch Day Showcases Local Biosciences Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Excellence

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Emerging life sciences ventures from the fifth cohort of the Westchester County Biosciences Accelerator (WCBA) participated in the annual Pitch Day event on May 9, 2024, in New York City. In addition to pitches and presentations from these ventures, the program also featured a keynote address by WCBA alum Mousa Ahmadi, Ph.D., co-founder of Laronix, who discussed his entrepreneurial journey, which took him from Australia to New York, and the best practices that he has identified along the way.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said: “The caliber of ideas and innovations among this cohort of life sciences entrepreneurs is truly impressive. We are proud to play a role in each of these venture’s growth journeys and wish them continued success.”

Westchester County Director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Deborah Novick said: “The founders in this year’s cohort are working on amazing innovations that will transform patient care in a range of diseases, enhance preventive care, and improve efficiencies in clinical trials. The progress they have made during the months of the Accelerator program is inspiring, and we look forward to continuing to support them on their entrepreneurial journeys.”

WCBA Program Director Mary Howard said: “From digital health solutions using AI to novel approaches to cancer treatments, the ventures graduating from this cohort are exceptional. We are pleased to offer this program to local life sciences entrepreneurs and look forward to welcoming our next group of emerging ventures this December.”

The 2024 WCBA cohort participants and ventures include:

  • Anita Lee, RPh, MPH (Independent) – Twin Weavers is pioneering a user-owned conversational super bot, blending AI and human intelligence, to empower underserved communities, provide vital services, and offer valuable insights for inclusive product and service development.
  • Ariel Yusupov, MS (New York Medical College) – FIG (Factor Induced Gene) Therapeutics is a biotech developing a multimodal polynucleotide therapeutic, driven by transcription factors overexpressed in cancer, that recruits potent anti-tumor immune cells and inhibits the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment.
  • Daniel Gareau, PhD, MCR (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center) – SurgiVance is a direct-to-digital, slide-free pathology lab in a box, for precision therapy, able to serve 1,000,000 surgeries and 30,000,000 biopsies per year in the USA, a $30,000,000,000 market.
  • Evris Gavathiotis, PhD (Albert Einstein College of Medicine) – BaxGen Therapeutics is developing small molecule therapeutics using an innovative approach targeting apoptosis in both blood and solid cancers, aiming to advance to clinical stage.
  • Glen Prusky, M.Sc., PhD (Burke Neurological Institute and Weill Cornell) – Gaze Engine Inc. aims to improve the standard of vision care with a patented eye tracking-based device that automates, quantifies and interprets contrast sensitivity tests.
  • Hourinaz Behesti, PhD (Rockefeller University) – Hebbian Bio is pioneering precision target, biomarker, and patient stratification for neurodevelopmental disorders, by radically reducing patient protein network complexities and discovery time.
  • Ilya Popov, MBA (Independent) - ComeBack Mobility
    has developed Smart Crutch Tips for at-home patient compliance after lower limb injuries. It reduces complications and revision surgeries, expedites recovery, and improves bone healing, generating additional revenue for practices and savings for payers.
  • Kirsten Hund Blair, MBA, MPA and Kevin McClarren, BSBA (Independent) - Lambent Data’s HIPAA-compliant software equips healthcare/social service providers and empowers patients/clients to improve outcomes in health and Social Drivers of Health, and reduce healthcare costs.
  • Michael Beaton, BA (Independent) – A mobile app that provides point of need diagnostics for sexually transmitted infections, using Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) as indicators of infection status and Zero-Knowledge proof algorithms to protect patient privacy.
  • Zach Sawaged, MS (Independent) – Concordare is a digital health company that is revolutionizing how clinical trial sites ingest trial protocols and through our novel clinical operations solutions optimizes clinical trial performance.

The Westchester County Office of Economic Development created the WCBA in 2019 to grow the local life sciences sector. The six-month program, delivered by FirstXFounder, provides cohort members with coaching, networking, and mentorship to help grow their ventures, attract funding, expand their teams, and identify flexible space to house their research and operations. For more information, visit:

Westchester County is home to the largest life sciences cluster in New York State, boasting 8,000 jobs and 20 percent of the State’s total private sector life sciences employment. The cluster comprises academic institutions doing basic research, R&D and clinical stage startups, large manufacturers, and supply chain participants. The County is proud to support biotech startups, stage two companies, and global leaders in the broad life sciences industry.

About The Westchester County Office of Economic Development

The Westchester County Office of Economic Development works to improve the County’s economic well-being and quality of life. This includes a broad range of activities to attract, create and retain jobs, and to foster a resilient, pro-growth and inclusive economy. For more information, visit the Westchester Catalyst website.

About FirstXFounder

FirstXFounder helps build emergent biosciences ventures founding the ELabNYC program for NYCEDC in 2012, the ABCT program for CTNext in 2017 and the Westchester County program in 2019. 155 ELabNYC alum ventures have raised $1B and created 356 jobs; 58 ABCT alumni ventures collectively raised $161M and created 161 jobs; and 41 WCBA alumni ventures have raised $21.7M and created 31 jobs. Notable alums include Cresilon, Monogram Orthopedics, Epibone, Yiviva, Landos BioPharma, Hyro, Massive Bio, Solvuu, Jelikalite, Intus, Cytosolix, Allomek, Revmedica and Virtus.


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