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NanoBioFAB Takes Top Spot in Emerging Technology Competition with AI-driven Nano Sensors

Technology startup contest brought innovations in health, technology, energy and infrastructure before major venture capitalists.

A nano materials research and development company took the top spot at a startup competition for emerging technologies with market potential in the defense and federal contracting sectors.

This competition was part of AFCEA TechNet Emergence, held March 11-12 in Reston, Virginia.

NanoBioFAB CEO Xiaonao Liu introduced her company at a presentation before a venture capitalists panel: “We are at the forefront of AI-driven smart nano sensors, revolutionizing pathogen detection and early infection prediction.”

The company said it has a $3.3 million contract with the Department of Defense (DoD) and seeks $1 million to continue expanding.

The technology works by embedding sensors into wounds and detecting the gases bacteria release during a potential infection. Without the need to open the dressing, a device detects infections using an artificial intelligence model with a high degree of accuracy, according to Liu.

Speaking to SIGNAL Media about what placed the company above the other 13 finalists, a judge offered the key success factors.

“It had the right technology for wound healing, which I think is one of the newest technologies using nano sensor technology,” said Anitha Raj, president of ARAR Technology. Raj also co-chairs AFCEA's Technology Committee.

Entrepreneurs had less than five minutes for their pitches and Liu used her time to present the product, explain they were already in business with the DoD and make a detailed funds request to investors.

“I think that's a key learning for anyone raising money: is to really have a tight use of funds with your milestones and show that you put some really careful thought into it,” said Tien Wong, founder and host of Big Idea CONNECTpreneur, investor panels moderator and competition judge, together with other eight venture capitalists.

Participants and judges, after receiving their awards. Photo credit: Diego Laje, AFCEA.
Judges congratulate the participants in a startup competition for emerging technologies held during AFCEA TechNet Emergence. Credit: Diego Laje

During the competition Liu learned about market pain points and received several ideas to improve her work.

“From this event we learned what's the future like from a military and the civilian perspectives, what to expect in the future,” Liu told SIGNAL Media in an interview.

Following NanoBioFAB were EarthGrid, Hue Lens and BioSolution Designs. The three companies scored similar points, according to Raj and merit was equally distributed among them.

EarthGrid is a company that innovated with a technology to dig tunnels faster, Hue Lens develops lenses to improve color vision and BioSolution creates tools for genetic therapy research.