San Diego’s EvoNexus Incubator Selects First Gaggle of Fledgling Startups

9/10/09Follow @bvbigelow

EvoNexus, the non-profit incubator launched in San Diego three months ago, has selected its inaugural group of new technology companies to be hatched.

Cathy Pucher, the incubator’s executive director, tells me the first clutch of startups getting support from EvoNexus were culled from about 45 applicants. The contenders came from a surprisingly diverse number of industries, including software, cleantech, wireless health, semiconductor, communications, and other technologies. “We really didn’t know how many applications or what kind of applications we would get,” Pucher says. Most of the applications came from “brand new” startups, she adds, including several started by individuals who had taken early retirement offers or had been laid off in the recession.

EvoNexus, which plans to move by the end of this month into commercial office space recently vacated by San Diego-based Leap Wireless (NASDAQ: LEAP), also has begun reviewing its second round of applications. (More on that below). Pucher says the three startups are:

—San Diego-based Medipacs is commercializing non-mechanical intravenous infusion technology that uses polymer pumps instead of electric motors and pump mechanisms. The company is initially targeting delivery of pain medications and already has developed wearable, programmable, and disposable infusion technology. It is looking for wireless industry expertise to add remote monitoring capabilities (and expand into the wireless health market).

CEO Mark McWilliams has extensive experience in the medical devices industry and in early stage companies. He has worked previously at Beckman Coulter, Q3DM, and Baxter Healthcare.

IO Semiconductor is a fabless semiconductor startup that is focused on applying new technologies to RF (radio frequency) devices for the cellular industry. “They don’t give out a lot of detail about what they’re doing because they’re in stealth mode,” Pucher says. She adds that IO (as in input-out) is implementing its technologies “in a way that would reduce costs and power requirements.” The company has been seeking a director of radio frequency design engineering and a director of radio freqency systems engineering, according to its website.

CEO Mark Drucker was previously a senior vice president at Semtech Corp. of Camarillo, CA, and oversaw quality control at Brooktree, a former San Diego chipmaker that specialized in analog to digital conversion technologies.

Pixon Imaging, has been developing software and hardware products for enhancing digital image processing, based on proprietary methods developed by Richard Puetter, the company’s founding CEO. The company, targeting security, surveillance, and defense markets, has developed proprietary software algorithms for contrast enhancement and reducing haze, fog, smoke, and heat wave shimmering from live video feeds.

Puetter, who also serves as Pixon’s chief scientist, has been working to refine the technology since he began to improve the image resolution of distant stars, when he was an astrophysicist at UC San Diego in the 1990s.

As I reported in June, companies selected for the EvoNexus incubator will get free office space that is fully furnished, including utilities, Internet access, and business mentoring by local executives and other volunteers. Startups will be allowed to stay for as long as two years, and will have no obligations to EvoNexus after they depart. The EvoNexus facility in Sorrento Valley is expected to support 10 to 12 San Diego-based startup companies.

Pucher says she’s received about 35 applications in the second-round for the incubation program, and the selection process is expected to be completed by the end of October. While EvoNexus is no longer accepting applications for the second round, the incubator plans to solicit applications for a new round early next year.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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