Accelerate STL Hands Out $120,000

As entrepreneurism and innovation continue to reshape the business landscape of St. Louis, the region’s premier showcase of startups — Startup Connection ( — highlighted the latest crop of stellar early stage companies on Wednesday night at Washington University.  Pioneering bioscience startup Geneoscopy was named winner of the Accelerate St. Louis Startup Challenge.

The Accelerate St. Louis Challenge awards three top companies with equity-free cash and provides one year of professional services and new office space.  It served as the final event of the evening, which attracted more than 1,000 attendees.

“This year’s Accelerate St. Louis Challenge was a really tough competition, so I want to congratulate all of the winners,” St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger said.  “The St. Louis startup scene is really exploding.  My team and I are committed to supporting local startups in any way we can.  I truly believe the next Express Scripts, Edward Jones and World Wide Technology are already right here and growing.”

The winners included:

1st place ($50,000) — Geneoscopy
Geneoscopy has developed a method to isolate and preserve biomarkers in stool samples.  It is using these biomarkers, along with a customized detection algorithm, to provide patients with a non-invasive screening test that can accurately diagnose and treat colorectal cancer.  Geneoscopy’s process is more accurate than a traditional colonoscopy.

2nd place ($30,000) — Babyation
Babyation has developed a wisper-quiet, smart-phone-enabled breast pump to help breast-feeding moms.  It also seamlessly built the pump into a jog bra, allowing women to pump without removing their shirts.  Babyation has been hailed in numerous national publications as a Invention of the Year for moms.

3rd place ($20,00) — Pro-Arc Diagnostics
Pro-Arc Diagnostics is a developing next-generation laboratory test for patients at risk of Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy.  PML is caused by the John Cunningham virus and is responsible for thousands of deaths each year.  To date, doctors have had no way to determine which patients were at risk for developing PML.  Pro-Arc’s technology is being designed to identify these patients, which may eventually allow doctors to monitor PML risk and safely design treatment courses in response.

Bright Futures / Veteran ($5,000) — AirZaar
AirZaar is a cloud-based “Software as a Service” platform which provides commercial drone fleet management, aerial data analytics and compliance solutions for enterprises that rely on data acquired by drones to make actionable decisions.  AirZaar’s platform allows enterprises with an internal or external drone team to streamline the relationship between drone operators and their clients.

Bright Futures / Woman ($5,000) — Geneoscopy
See above

Bright Futures / Minority ($5,000) — Idiomatic
Idiomatic empowers companies with the ability to make magical products.  It does this by unlocking the potential of customer feedback data, so companies can identify and eliminate the friction in their products that is standing in their way.  Idiomatic analyzes customer service tickets, Net Promoter Score comments and app reviews that companies already generate.  It makes businesses better because they make smarter decisions, have better product-market fit, increase loyalty and reduce churn.

Mosaic Bright Futures / Immigrant ($5,000) — Upaya Pharmaceuticals
Upaya Pharmaceuticals develops and commercializes new drugs that revitalize existing antibiotics for the treatment of antibiotic resistant infections.  Its competitive SynAmp Technology provides a new platform for drug discovery and development.  Motivated to provide better therapeutic solutions to patients, Upaya’s team is impelled to develop a portfolio of pre-clinical and clinical combination antibiotics to solve this critical healthcare challenge caused by resistant bacteria.

“I feel honored to have been selected for this prestigious award,” Geneoscopy founder Erica Barnell said.  “The competition itself was instrumental in developing Geneoscopy’s business plan and the award will provide funds to support a 1,000-patient pre-clinical FDA trial.  This pivotal trial will bring our test one step closer to the 80 million Americans recommended to undergo regular colorectal cancer screening.  Beyond this competition, I feel proud to be a part of the growing entrepreneurial community here in St. Louis that is turning significant scientific discoveries into products that improve the healthcare industry.  St. Louis is the place to be for young entrepreneurs like myself.”

Other finalists for the 2016 Accelerate St. Louis Challenge include Cotton Cuts, Eureka Analytics, Ivani / Network Presence Sensing, Lifepack, MathBRIX, NanoGuard Technologies, PawFriction, PEDECARE, Public Funds Investment Tracking and Reporting, Pyngby and Sports Valet.

“We had lots of terrific contest applicants this year,” St. Louis Regional Chamber VP for Entrepreneurship & Innovation Jason Hall said.  “Several national media outlets have called St. Louis a top region for startups, and the quality of these businesses would certainly support that perspective.  These entrepreneurs are critical to our future growth and prosperity.”

The Accelerate St. Louis Challenge ( was created to recognize top startups in the region.  It highlights local entrepreneurs and helps fund their ventures with non-dilutive cash prizes.  A total of $120,000 was handed out at Wednesday’s event, with first place earning $50,000, second place winning $30,000 and third place taking home $20,000.  Four Bright Futures awards, at $5,000 apiece, were also announced.

Startup Connection ( gives St. Louis’ top startups the opportunity to present their companies to a packed house of entrepreneurs, investors, and other members of the innovation community.  The event combines a startup showcase, resource fair, and is topped off with a fast-paced pitch session.