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A-Alpha Bio Founder and CEO David Younger, left, and COO Bob Lamm accepting the first place prize. (UW Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship Photo / Matt Hagen)

Thursday marked the third annual Hollomon Health Challenge, hosted by the University of Washington’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship. The goal: Recognize student startups that are solving health challenges and give them a chance to win some crucial seed funding.

This year’s first place, $15,000 prize went to A-Alpha Bio, a team of current and recently graduated UW Bioengineering PhD students. It is led by CEO and Founder David Younger, who recently graduated, and COO Bob Lamm, a current student.

The startup’s technology, called AlphaSeq, uses yeast to fully characterize how proteins are interacting, making the process cheaper and more efficient for pharmaceutical companies.

“Instead of the current workflow, which involves screening each protein interaction separately, AlphaSeq makes it possible to screen thousands of protein interactions in a single test tube. This makes comprehensive protein interaction screening cost-effective for the first time,” its website says.

OLA Simple’s device helps treat and manage genetic disorders. (UW Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship Photo / Matt Hagen)

The technology is aimed at helping pharmaceutical companies fully characterize their drugs before they begin clinical trials, helping head off any problems that may occur in the clinical trial process.

The second place, $10,000 prize went to OLA Simple, a team of bioengineering and electrical engineering graduate students. They developed a point-of-care software system that aims to change the diagnostics, predictive outcomes, and targeted therapy for genetic disorders.

And finally, the third place, $5,000 prize went to ACBI, a team that created a device to automate continuous bladder irrigation treatments. The procedure is used by many patients who have surgery on the prostate or urinary system and helps them urinate. The team says their device improves the current manual process and makes it cheaper and less time intensive while lowering the risk of complication.

This year’s challenge was judged by more than 100 members of Seattle’s business and life sciences community. The challenge was founded in 2016 after the Buerk Center noticed a critical mass of healthcare and biotechnology startups entering its business plan competition.

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