Minneapolis, MN: On September 22, 2020, the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management named BlueCube Bio the grand-prize winner of the 2020 MN Cup. This highly competitive, prestigious honor recognizes organizations state-wide for their excellence in entrepreneurism and investment pitching.
BlueCube was awarded $30,000 for MN Cup's Life Science/Health IT division (one of nine categories) before going on to win the $50,000 grand prize. Their winning venture was revealed during a live-streamed award ceremony from the University of Minnesota's McNamara Alumni Center.
"As you can imagine, an infusion of capital for our brand-new company is an incredible gift which we will invest wisely. We are very grateful for the entrepreneurial community in Minnesota and their practice of giving back," says Karen Dodson, BlueCube Bio's CEO.
BlueCube Bio was founded by Allison Hubel, PhD, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Minnesota, after contemplating how trees endure subzero Minnesota winters. "Plants, insects and even frogs survive low temperatures and other environmental extremes," Hubel said.
Hubel adapted strategies used by nature to protect cells during freezing. "Nature has developed approaches to protect biological systems. We need to pay attention to the lessons the environment has taught us and sometimes, it takes an outsider to see things in a new way," said Hubel, in reference to her engineering background.
Her initial research was conducted on campus and supported by the university as the team worked towards commercialization. Finding a replacement for the toxic molecule that is commonly used to preserve cells had been a long term interest of Hubel's.
University of Minnesota doctoral students, Rui Li, who is now BlueCube Bio's Director of Research Development and Katie Hornberger, Director of Research, Manufacturing, and Controls contributed significantly to the research and product development, further strengthening the impact made by the academic community.
"In total, 1,042 entrepreneurs participated in this year's MN Cup. Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, the caliber of companies competing was exceptional, and presented one of the most competitive grand prize selections in the competition's 16-year history. I look forward to the massive economic and societal impact they will have in Minnesota," says MN Cup Co-Founder Scott Litman.
About BlueCube Bio:
By transforming cryopreservation techniques using nontoxic materials, BlueCube Bio increases the efficacy of cellular therapies by reducing the side-effects associated with infusing life-threatening preservation chemicals into the body. The implications of cellular therapies are wide-ranging and include improving treatment outcomes for all types of cancer, lung damage resulting from COVID-19, and eventually strokes, heart attacks and Alzheimer's.