NOBIC Announces Relaunch of BioChallenge Pitch Competition

New Orleans BioInnovation Center fuels accessible and equitable health security with relaunch of BioChallenge pitch competition

NEW ORLEANS (April 23, 2024) – The New Orleans BioInnovation Center (NOBIC) is excited to announce the relaunch of the annual BioChallenge pitch competition to be held Oct. 31, 2024. The competition invites entrepreneurs and startups to showcase their groundbreaking ideas and technologies, positioning them for success in bringing to market the next generation of health security solutions. The challenge is poised to ignite biotech innovation and enhance equitable and accessible preparedness and response in New Orleans and beyond.

As a member of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) Accelerator Network since 2018, NOBIC is excited to focus this year’s challenge around the mission to develop medical countermeasures that address the public health and medical consequences of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) accidents, incidents and attacks, pandemic influenza and emerging infectious diseases.

“We are thrilled to launch the 2024 BioChallenge, a NOBIC signature event that has produced many local and national success stories. This year, we are especially excited to see the innovative solutions focusing on access and equity that our finalists will bring to the forefront,” said Kris Khalil, executive director, New Orleans BioInnovation Center and managing director, BioFund.

“The BioChallenge is not just a competition; it’s a platform for breakthrough ideas that have the potential to revolutionize our nation’s health security posture. We’re looking forward to showcasing the talent and ingenuity of our community,” said Patrick Norton, NOBIC board chair

The BioChallenge pitch competition will be held at the New Orleans BioInnovation Center in downtown New Orleans Oct. 31, 2024, following BIO on the BAYOU, an academic biotechnology research symposium.

Past winners of the BioChallenge include local biotech trailblazers such as Axosim, Junum, Obatala Sciences and BioAesthetics. This year’s winners’ total prize pool, supported by multiple stakeholders, is over $100,000 and growing.


About New Orleans BioInnovation Center: The New Orleans BioInnovation Center (“NOBIC”) is a nonprofit business incubator focused on advancing life science entrepreneurship and technology commercialization in Louisiana. The mission of NOBIC is to create a successful biotech ecosystem by providing emerging companies with customized commercialization services, premier facilities, and a comprehensive support network. Through relationships with research institutions, economic development organizations, and industry stakeholders, NOBIC helps its clients de-risk novel technologies, attract funding, and improve global health outcomes. For more information, visit

About BIO on the BAYOU: BIO on the BAYOU, the premier biotechnology conference for the broader Gulf South region spotlights cutting-edge biotech advancements from universities and start-ups located in Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Puerto Rico. Notable presenters included Dr. Monica Embers of Tulane University, who discussed a new diagnostic platform for improved Lyme disease testing, and Dr. Michael Dunham of LSU Health New Orleans, who described his novel tumor margin device.  Multiple academic startups also presented, including BioAesthetics, Chosen Diagnostics, Informuta, and PainVox.

New Technology Revolutionizes DNA Testing of Sexual Assault Samples

New technology revolutionizes DNA testing of sexual assault samples

InnoGenomics SpermX™ delivers reliable results to solve sexual assault crimes

NEW ORLEANS (March 28, 2023) – Addressing a long-term shortcoming in DNA evidence for rape and sexual assault cases, New Orleans-based InnoGenomics has developed a nanotech method, SpermX™, that drastically increases usable results to solve more crimes. 

The novel nanotechnology-derived polymer outperforms conventional methods, capturing male DNA from as few as 25 sperm cells while minimizing DNA contribution from the victim. The method can also be automated for labs with larger caseloads. 

“Nearly 60% of sexual assault kits tested with traditional methods do not recover enough male DNA to obtain a usable DNA profile from the offender,” says Dr. Sudhir Sinha, InnoGenomics CEO, “SpermX™ changes that.” 

“Our nanotech method is up to six times more efficient at extracting male DNA profiles, especially from low-level sperm samples. We can significantly improve the probability of solving sexual assault crimes by using this method.” 

Conventional forensic laboratory methods for processing sexual assault samples typically only recover 5-30% of the sperm in the sample, resulting in many kits testing positive for male DNA but not providing enough genetic information for a criminal investigation. Traditional methods produce usable DNA profiles only 10% of the time from samples with lower sperm amounts, such as oral swabs.

A recent interlaboratory study performed by the University of Central Florida (UCF), Center for Forensic Science Research and Education (CFSRE), and InnoGenomics (IGT), demonstrated the benefits of the SpermX™ method. Participating laboratories achieved informative DNA profiles from over 10% of low-level sperm samples and recovered sperm from samples containing as few as 25 sperm cells. In contrast, traditional methods yielded informative profiles from only 16% of these low-level samples. The study results were presented at the 2023 American Academy of Forensic Sciences Annual Conference.

“This data demonstrates that SpermX outperforms older methods when dealing with very low sperm amounts,” says Dr. Jack Ballantyne, UCF professor of Chemistry and Associate Director for Research at the National Center for Forensic Science. “For SpermX, the male DNA was easily detectible. We’re really quite impressed with the difference between the methods based on this data.” 

Over the last 20 years, DNA testing of rape kits, along with the establishment of national DNA databases, have become a powerful tool for solving sexual assault cases. The ability to separate sperm cells from other cells to obtain a DNA profile from the perpetrator has been a key factor in solving these cases SpermX™’s ability to derive male DNA profiles from as few as 25 sperm cells has the potential to revolutionize the handling of sexual assault and rape cases, providing almost routine solutions with its advanced testing capabilities.


InnoGenomics Technologies (IGT): Dedicated to the development of innovative genetic testing solutions that solve crimes and save lives, IGT is a client of the New Orleans BioInnovation Center (NOBIC). With support from National Science Foundation SBIR grants, IGT developed novel patented technology scalable across applications including forensic and missing-person identification, relationship and ancestral ethno-geographic establishment and molecular diagnostics. The IGT team has in-depth expertise in molecular biology, forensic genetics and molecular diagnostics. Its management team has over 85 combined years of experience in successful biotechnology commercialization. IGT focuses on harnessing the power of genomics to transform health care and forensic investigations. IGT is a BioFund Portfolio Company.


Local Biotech Company is Improving Clinical Care for Animals

Local Biotech Company is Improving Clinical Care for Animals

PetVet Dx celebrated recent expansion and future plans at a community event Friday

NEW ORLEANS (March 31, 2023) Local biotech company PetVet Dx hosted a community event last Friday to celebrate their recent expansion in the New Orleans BioInnovation Center (NOBIC.) The program capped off with a donation to both the New Orleans Police Department Canine Unit and Audubon Zoo.

PetVet Dx is a therapeutic management company specializing in Infectious Disease and Cancer molecular diagnostic testing to improve clinical care in all species of animals. Its revolutionary technology provides an effective and efficient testing product for veterinarians, farmers, and pet owners. 

“As a company, we felt it was important to thank the community we are a part of,” said David Kutrucz, President of PetVetDX. “Support the NOPD Canine Unit and Audubon Zoo just made sense. Not only are we proud to make a monetary donation, we also donated our diagnostic services.”

PetVet Dx offers the most comprehensive infectious disease tests and identification of antibiotic resistance genes on the market.  PetVet Dx is the only laboratory in the nation utilizing and offering the most advanced, CDC-recommended technology to produce the most comprehensive reporting within 24 hours with an unequaled accuracy rate of 99.8%.

In addition, PetVet Dx’s testing solution provides you with pharmacological antibiotic medication reporting to help veterinarians, pet owners, and farmers better understand identified infections and their treatment.

For more information, please visit here.


PetVet Dx: PetVet Dx is a therapeutic management company specializing in targeted PCR molecular diagnostics to improve clinical care in all species of animals. Our revolutionary molecular technology provides a firm foundation for diagnostics in animal health services for veterinarians, farmers, and pet owners. PetVet Dx believes that the only diagnostic test that should be performed is one that will improve an animal’s overall outcome.

AxoSim and New Orleans BioInnovation Center Celebrate Lab Expansion

NEW ORLEANS (March 16, 2023) — Today, AxoSim celebrated the expansion of their footprint with the New Orleans BioInnovation Center (NOBIC) at a ribbon cutting at 1441 Canal Street. The event, followed by a reception in the NOBIC lobby, was attended by BioDistrict supporters including elected officials, business organizations and board members from both entities. 

The new partnership expands AxoSim’s current operation to more than 4,000 square feet at the NOBIC facility in the heart of the downtown BioDistrict. The additional lab space will allow AxoSim to grow its neuroscience drug discovery operations and accelerate their mission of empowering advancements in human neuroscience. The company’s proprietary NerveSim® and BrainSim® platforms provide accurate, predictive models of the human nervous system, rapidly delivering clinically actionable human data early in the drug development process. AxoSim’s platforms have the potential to reduce the time and cost of new drug R&D for neurodegenerative disorders, in addition to its applications in toxicology. The technology has been shown to achieve research milestones at a fraction of the time and cost of conventional animal testing, allowing AxoSim’s biopharma partners to develop more effective and safer drugs with greater speed and efficiency.

“I feel more driven by our mission than ever,” says AxoSim CEO Lowry Curley, PhD.  “Every client and partner we work with in our lab look to AxoSim for solutions to support better neuroscience drug discovery. Better preclinical data leads to more effective and safer drugs and ultimately better patient outcomes. For those patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases like neuropathy, pain, ALS, MS, or Alzheimer’s, a new more effective drug is the best hope for a better quality of life.”

This opening exemplifies continued progress in development of New Orleans as a biotech hub by NOBIC and its affiliated companies and stakeholders.

“We are excited for Dr. Curley and the AxoSim team achieving this major milestone,” says NOBIC Executive Director Kris Khalil. “When our most promising startups raise private capital and grow locally, it moves our community one step closer to building a sustainable life science entrepreneurship ecosystem. In turn, this creates more high-paying specialized jobs in the region, keeping our brightest students and recruiting the best biotech and business talent to New Orleans.”

NOBIC is dedicated to growing the high-tech entrepreneurial system across the state, starting here in New Orleans. The center includes lab space for startups and established companies, like AxoSim, to conduct their research in the heart of downtown. The New Orleans BioFund program also offers various capital options to small businesses that may not qualify for traditional financing options, better positioning them for growth and success.

For more information on AxoSim and their innovative research please visit

For more information on NOBIC, please visit


About AxoSim: AxoSim empowers advancements in human neuroscience by partnering with biopharma companies to facilitate breakthroughs in devastating neurological diseases and disorders. Their proprietary drug discovery platforms NerveSim® and BrainSim® deliver clinically-relevant data to select better lead candidates with phenotypically accurate assays. AxoSim’s platforms have applications in peripheral neuropathy and neuropathic pain, disease modeling (such as ALS, MS, and CMT), and neurotoxicology. For more information, visit

About New Orleans BioInnovation Center: The New Orleans BioInnovation Center (“NOBIC”) is a nonprofit business incubator focused on advancing life science entrepreneurship and technology commercialization in Louisiana. The mission of NOBIC is to create a successful biotech ecosystem by providing emerging companies with customized commercialization services, premier facilities and a comprehensive support network. Through relationships with research institutions, economic development organizations and industry stakeholders, NOBIC helps its clients de-risk novel technologies, attract funding and improve global health outcomes. For more information, visit

Louisiana Enacts Impactful Legislation to Support Small Business Innovators

In a significant win for Louisiana’s innovation ecosystem, the state legislature passed a trio of measures in 2022 aimed at supporting innovative small businesses with vital funds. 

Collectively, the new laws establish three new funds for innovators and entrepreneurs to access as they grow their small businesses in Louisiana. The newly enacted funds will provide financial assistance to certain Louisiana businesses applying for and leveraging Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) federal research grants. SBIR funding represents a partnership between an SBIR-participating federal agency and a small business, while STTR grants are federal research grants set aside for small businesses working with a nonprofit research partner, typically with a university. 

Small Business Innovation Fund

The Small Business Innovation Fund establishes a mechanism for the state to directly support entrepreneurs in completing and submitting competitive SBIR and STTR applications. This fund provides up to $150,000 to be distributed annually, from which: 

  • Up to $60,000 will be awarded in grant form to aid in the completion of Phase 1 SBIR or STTR grant applications. (up to $5,000 per applicant). 
  • Up to $60,000 will be awarded as grants for applicants aiming to complete Phase 2 of SBIR or STTR applications. (up to  $10,000 per applicant.) 
  • $30,000 is allocated to the Louisiana Technology Transfer Office (LTTO) for their technical assistance, programs, and promotions.

Small Business Innovation Retention Fund 

The Small Business Innovation Retention Fund equips the state to support Louisiana innovators as they leverage federal grants in growing their businesses. This fund provides up to $1,105,000 annually, from which: 

  • Up to $500,000 will be allocated for Phase I SBIR or STTR federal grant recipients. 
    • Grantees will receive an amount equal to 25% of the Phase I SBIR or STTR federal grants, up to $50,000 per applicant. 
  • Up to $500,000 for Phase II SBIR or STTR federal grant recipients. 
    • Grantees will receive an amount equal to 20% of Phase II SBIR or STTR grants, up to $100,000 per applicant. 
  • Up to $105,000 is allocated to Louisiana Economic Development for technical support and administration. 

Each grant will be divided into two equal amounts and will be distributed to the selected applicant over a period of two consecutive years. 

Small Business Innovation Recruitment Fund

The Small Business Innovation Recruitment Fund provides Louisiana with a new tool to effectively recruit out-of-state Phase 2 SBIR/STTR award recipients to locate their operations in Louisiana. In the form of grants from Louisiana Economic Development, eligible companies can receive up to $100,000 divided and distributed equally over three consecutive years.  This fund provides up to $500,000 annually. . To qualify for this grant; applicants must meet the following criteria: 

  • Received Phase II SBIR or STTR grant funding within the two years immediately preceding application submission. 
  • Generated sales and revenue with documentation. 
  • Produced commercial products or conducted commercial services with documentation. 

The Louisiana Legislative Fiscal Office anticipates support through these funds to be available as early as Summer 2023. 

Benefits of SBIR and STTR Grants

The benefits of SBIR and STTR grants are that these types of funding are stable, predictable, and come in the form of grants, not loans. The capital is non-dilutive, and small businesses can retain intellectual property rights on their research and products they prototype. Additionally, they provide recognition, validation, and visibility to companies in their early stages and can help attract future funding. 

This new law will allow Louisiana innovators to bring their ideas to life and further bioinnovation. The New Orleans BioInnovation Center supports entrepreneurship and is dedicated to developing bioscience throughout the state. We are proud to work with entrepreneurs and researchers to commercialize new technologies and have seen 60+ SBIR/STTR applications supported by commercialization staff. 

“The NIH’s SBIR/STTR Program is pivotal for young biotech,” South Rampart Pharma CEO and Co-Founder Hernan Bazan said. “Besides providing non-dilutive funding, it offers access to unique industry reports and business development expertise. And tax incentives can be used for further R&D capital.” 

For anyone interested in applying for SBIR or STTR grants or seeking access to customized commercialization services, premier facilities, and a comprehensive support network, contact us today. 

“The SBIR program is important because, in high-tech, high-payoff technology plays, it gives entrepreneurs the initial funding to do the actual proof-of-principal for their products and accelerate their development,” Chosen Diagnostics CEO Sunyoung Kim said. “Being a woman-owned and women-led startup, it is wonderful to see the state invest in high-tech R&D businesses [and it] increases the likelihood that Louisiana-based companies will be able to successfully develop products and services in our backyard. Real efforts to retain our best and brightest, as well as to encourage talent outside our state to come here, is an exciting step forward.” 

How NOBIC Can Help 

NOBIC works to accelerate the growth of Louisiana’s biotech ecosystem, supporting innovators and companies as  Louisiana becomes a leader in biotech innovation and commercialization. In order to achieve this goal, we’ve partnered with various businesses that align with our values of empowering entrepreneurs, connecting innovators with a broad network, and promoting opportunities for underrepresented groups. Some of our partners include state and federal government agencies, including Louisiana Economic Development (LED), the U.S. Department of Commerce, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the Delta Regional Authority. We also proudly partner with Tulane University, LSU Health New Orleans, Xavier University of Louisiana, and The University of New Orleans

NOBIC also offers the New Orleans BioFund to support small businesses in the region that are looking to grow, create jobs, and contribute to New Orleans’s revitalization but may not qualify for traditional financing.

To learn more about NOBIC, our values, past startups we’ve worked with, our facilities, and more, visit our website at

ReactWell Licenses ORNL Catalyst for Energy Conversion Applications

ReactWell, a NOBIC client and tenant, recently announced a partnership with Oak Ridge National Lab. The Company has licensed a novel waste-to-fuel technology to improve energy conversion methods for cleaner, more efficient oil and gas, chemical, and bioenergy production. ReactWell will combine this process with existing technologies to make a more efficient and effective solutions for its customers.

CADEX Genomics Launches Clinical Study

Cadex Genomics, a newly funded company based on technology developed in Louisiana, recently announced the launch of a clinical study at Rocky Mountain Cancer Center. The company had recently raised $1.5 Million to cover operations and clinical studies to bring its initial product, Alibrex, to market. Veteran entrepreneur and Alibrex inventor Sudhir Sinha has joined the company as the Chief Scientific Officer. Alibrex is a blood-based assay that indicates when a patient with a stage IV solid tumor cancer is not responding to therapy within two weeks after treatment commences. Learn more about Cadex and its products at