Jordan Noe, an MD/PhD student, whose team MAC-BIO won the inaugural CardStart student innovation challenge. (photo courtesy Jordan Noe)
Jordan Noe, an MD/PhD student, whose team MAC-BIO won the inaugural CardStart student innovation challenge. (photo courtesy Jordan Noe)

A University of Louisville student startup aimed at fighting cancer has won the inaugural CardStart innovation competition. 

The startup is MAC-BIO, led by MD/PhD student Jordan Noe, which is developing a new cell-based therapy for the treatment of aggressive solid tumors. For winning CardStart, Noe will receive $1,500 to help him get his startup off the ground and his technology to market.

“CardStart has been an amazing experience in refining MAC-BIO’s business pitch and vision as well as helping us connect with potential mentors and investors,” he said. “CardStart’s support will be instrumental in helping us further advance our technology through our current pre-clinical studies.”

CardStart is a two-pronged, student-led event. In fall 2020, teams spent a whirlwind virtual weekend finding innovative solutions to health care problems and building startups around them. 

The top teams from that event, including Noe, won mentorship and coaching, modest funding to develop their prototype and free registration (an $895+ value) for the 2021 spring cohort of LaunchIt, UofL’s 10-week entrepreneurial training boot camp.

In April, the teams competed again, pitching their ideas to a panel of seasoned judges for a shot at cash prizes. 

Noe took first place, and Vertify, which is commercializing a UofL research-born bone density measurement device for spinal surgery, took second. The Vertify team — MBA student Alex Godfrey and undergraduate business major Connor Cowell — received $1,000 to further their startup. 

CardStart is backed by the UofL Office of Research and InnovationForcht Center for Entrepreneurship, the Louisville Healthcare CEO Council and the XLerator Network, an NIGMS-funded partnership that expands access to and accelerates technology commercialization support to universities throughout the Southeast IDeA state region, which includes Kentucky, West Virginia, South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Samantha Morrissey, a medical student and graduate chair of the CardStart student organizing committee, said the event is meant to encourage students to think outside the box and gain hands-on experience innovating. 

“This is a great and unique event at UofL that affords students the opportunity and possible financial support to explore entrepreneurship,” she said. “We wanted students to get creative and transform their ideas into real world technologies that could ultimately be developed into their very own startup, and that’s exactly what these teams did.”