Business plan

Pitt Hoth Intelligence Team Wins Second Place in Rice Business Plan Competition


Jonathan Cohen chose the University of Pittsburgh’s MD/PhD program because of Pitt’s focus on pioneering new medical technologies and its ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship.

With the support of this ecosystem, Cohen and his student collaborators Andrew Liu and Tyler Alexander, a friend since his undergraduate studies, recently chained impressive performances in two startup competitions.

Their team, Hoth Intelligence, won second place and a prize totaling $386,700 at the prestigious Rice Business Plan Competition in Houston, then won a $5,000 prize at the Pitt Big Idea Center’s Randall Family Big Idea Competition. .

Hoth Intelligence develops hardware and software that reconstructs a CT or MRI to create a patient-specific 3D object. This can then be loaded into a virtual reality headset that allows clinicians to “see through and inside” patients to help them perform tasks such as inserting catheters with greater precision.

“This headset and the software we’re building will fundamentally change the nature of medicine forever,” Cohen said, adding that their system already meets FDA standards for catheter placement with an error rate of less than 10 percent. .

The team has already met with the chair of the department of neurosurgery at a large children’s hospital and others about using the system for training clinicians. Using the device for training purposes allows Hoth to start generating revenue before receiving FDA approval for patient use.

Cohen said Hoth was working to raise a total of $1.5 million to help secure FDA approval, which they were aiming for by the end of 2023.

He said Hoth’s rapid progress is attributable to the support he received from the Big Idea Center, Pitt’s hub for student innovation.

“I would like to acknowledge the contributions of Rhonda Schuldt, Director of the Big Idea Center, Entrepreneurs-in-Residence Don Morrison and Kelly Collier, and Chris Wilmer, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering – they all been great mentors, helping guide us in our business strategy and preparing for the Rice and Big Idea competitions.

He added, “We are excited to continue to grow with the Pittsburgh community and look forward to bringing some of our technology to market soon.

Hoth’s success at Rice continues a recent trend of strong performances for Pitt’s teams.

In 2021, SimL (now EZPT)led by then-Pitt senior Kunal Gandhi won a $30,000 prize for an app that uses artificial intelligence to help improve posture and technique during sports training.

In 2017, Matt Kesinger, then a medical student at Pitt, won first place and $600,000 for his company, Forest Devices, Inc., which markets a device for faster and more accurate diagnosis of stroke.

“We are delighted with Hoth Intelligence’s success in the Rice Business Plan Competition,” said Schuldt, director of the Big Idea Center. “Jonathan and his team quickly became exceptional entrepreneurs and accessed all the resources open to them in the Pitt innovation ecosystem.”

She added, “Their success is emblematic of the accelerated growth of student innovation and entrepreneurship at Pitt.”

The Big Idea Center is opening a new facility this summer for student innovators in the Loeffler Building, 3601 Forbes Avenue.

—Mike Yeomans

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