Four UCI Startup Companies Featured at First Look SoCal Showcase in Pasadena

Past Tides
June 25, 2019 By Jackie Connor

Investors, venture capitalists and licensing officers from across Southern California gathered for the second annual First Look Showcase in Pasadena to get a peek at what’s new in the startup community.

Startups from the university systems, including UCI startup companies NOWA, JeniVision, RNAceuticals and Soft Health Technologies, presented their pitches with each startup company’s technology and/or innovation either focused on life sciences, diagnostics or technology.

“I’m really glad we were chosen to present here,” said Nasam Chokr, CEO of NOWA Innovations. “It was the biggest audience and showcase I’ve been in and I’ve been able to connect with so many different people who can give me a different perspective so I can strategically approach the most efficient and successful tactics for our startup company.”

Chokr of NOWA Innovations, a UCI Beall Applied Innovation Wayfinder startup company, presented on NOWA’s product Unaresp, a noninvasive educational tool that provides instant feedback about medication adherence and promotes asthma and COPD management. The device allows for technique correction and maintenance for metered dose inhaler users. Unaresp also measures oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitric oxide, which can indicate inflammation.

*Video interview of Nasam Chokr, NOWA Innovations courtesy of Ben Kuo, founder of

Jenny Wang, CEO of JeniVision, also an Applied Innovation Wayfinder startup, presented two different drug products for pharma. The first product, JV-GL1, is a powerful anti-glaucoma drug that lowers intraocular pressure to a level that prevents further vision deterioration. The second portion of Wang’s presentation focused on the drug product, known as JV-DE1, which treats ocular surface pain and discomfort.

RNAceuticals, a startup company that utilizes UCI intellectual property, is developing medicines based on self-amplifying RNA, which promises better medicines across a spectrum of diseases. RNA, or ribonucleic acid, is essential in various biological roles in the expression of genes. The company uses a combination of self-amplifying RNA and delivery technologies to increase dose effectiveness and enhance therapeutic windows.

Thomas Berryman, co-founder of Soft Health Technologies, presents at First Look Showcase. Photo: Justin Han.

“We’re able to program a person’s cells to make disease-fighting antibodies,” said Franklin Volvovitz, president of RNAceuticals and presenter. “As the platform is developed, we are very interested in having partnerships with large pharma and biotech companies where our technology could be advantageous.”

Soft Health Technologies, presented by Thomas Berryman, co-founder and UCI alumni, is the first FDA-cleared over-the-counter bladder leak product that stops leaks before they happen. The foam patch uses a gentle hydrogel adhesive and is placed at the urethral opening for prevention.

For more information on UCI startup company resources and pitching opportunities, visit Applied Innovation’s resources page.

*Featured Photo courtesy of: Justin Han.
Pictured: Nasam Chokr, CEO of NOWA Innovations

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