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Dartmouth Engineering Startup Awarded Phase II SBIR Grant

Aug 01, 2022   |   Thayer/QUEL Imaging

QUEL Imaging, founded in 2019 by a student-faculty team, focuses on the commercialization of tools and services to accelerate the clinical translation of fluorescence guided surgical systems. QUEL announced it has received a Phase II SBIR award from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering of the National Institutes of Health.

QUEL Imaging co-founders Ethan LaRochelle Th'20, CEO and PI, and Alberto Ruiz Th'22, CTO and Co-Investigator.

This highly competitive award provides nearly $2 million in funding to support expanded development and manufacturing of fluorescence reference targets over the next two years. The targets and tools developed by QUEL Imaging are used by commercial and academic customers to expedite regulatory approval, reduce development costs, and facilitate new indication development for intraoperative fluorescence imaging.

These efforts will be led by co-founders Ethan LaRochelle Th'20, CEO and PI, and Alberto Ruiz Th'22, CTO and Co-Investigator. 

"Alberto and I were both advised by Professors Brian Pogue and Kim Samkoe," says LaRochelle, "and Kim will be leading a sub-award to the Dartmouth Center for Imaging Medicine."

During the past 18 months, QUEL Imaging has developed a customer base of over two dozen companies with shipments sent to ten countries. LaRochelle and Ruiz also recently completed the NIH I-Corps program to further refine QUEL Imaging's value proposition and business thesis, conducting over 100 customer interviews during the eight-week training.

QUEL Imaging plans to use the SBIR funds to:

  • Develop new target designs to enhance system characterizations
  • Expand their portfolio of supported fluorescence contrast agents
  • Enhance their quality management system and component traceability
  • Explore new manufacturing methods to support high-volume production 

QUEL Imaging was awarded a previous SBIR Phase I grant by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering to develop fluorescence reference phantoms, and a SBIR Phase I contract by the National Cancer Institute to develop biomimicking optical phantoms. The company has office and manufacturing space in White River Junction, Vermont.

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