Pneumico Completes a Phase I NSF SBIR Project

MDC portfolio company Pneumico has completed Phase I of an SBIR project for the National Science Foundation. Pneumico is developing technologies to improve the safety and quality of manual ventilation, a technique that is lifesaving, but potentially deadly if performed incorrectly. Under the NSF Phase I SBIR award, the goal was to refine, verify, and validate the capabilities of a ventilation monitor and real-time feedback system for manual ventilation delivered via a bag-valve mask.

During the project Pneumico:

1) Developed hardware with refined sensor designs that improve flow rate and pressure measurement accuracy and precision across a wide tidal volume range. This ensures the accuracy of the pressure and volume monitoring processes.

2) Developed software interface that provides a clear data display, clearly communicates ventilation performance, and suggests corrective actions. This was designed to support users in proper application of the technology and ensure patient safety.

3) Developed a training protocol that established techniques to use and evaluate real-time feedback in training manual ventilation skills. The training program was tested with volunteers of various skill levels, ranging from experienced anesthesiologists, residents, medical students, and EMTs.

Pneumico was founded by Dr. Bryan Marascalchi of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine to commercialize his idea for a system to protect patients from incorrect use of bag valve masks. Dr. Marascalchi had witnessed a child being injured by improper use, a vowed to design a system that would prevent this from happening. After building the first version himself, Dr. Marascalchi founded Pneumico and approached MDC.

Pneumico joined the MDC portfolio to have access to engineering services to develop and test the design and for business development and support for funding to develop the Pneumico device, obtain regulatory approval, and gain market traction. MDC Partner and Vice-President, Dr. Stephen Restaino (PhD), has been supporting Pneumico, writing proposals and providing guidance for the engineering team that worked on the Pneumico device. MDC Senior Research Engineer, Dr. Jeff Gair (PhD), served as the Principal Investigator for the NSF grant. Dr. Gair led the engineering design and development. He also teamed with Dr. Nao Gamo of MDC to an NSF sponsored I-Corps customer discovery process.

The NSF Phase I project funding was $250,000, including the mini-I-Corps program. Pneumico and MDC plan to submit a Phase II SBIR proposal in the near future. Phase II NSF projects can reach up to $1,000,000 in funding over 24 months, with an additional $50,000 in commercialization assistance. NSF also has a Phase IIB program that matches funds raised by companies from investors or partners.

“Dr. Marascalchi is a terrific entrepreneur and clinician. His invention of the Pneumico system, motivated by his experience is compelling. His work “engineering” the first version himself is remarkable. We are delighted to be working with such a creative and innovative physician. We are grateful to the NSF for its support of this project,” said Gil Blankenship, Founder of MDC.

"Being part of MDC not only made winning the NSF grant possible, it made successful successful completion of the project possible. I want express my appreciation to Dr. Jeff Gair and Dr. Stephen Restaino for their ey contributions to the project," said Bryan Marascalchi, founder and CEO of Pneumico.

About the MDC Studio

The MDC Studio is the operational unit of the Maryland Development Center Partnership, which was founded in 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. MDC Studio functions as a MedTech Startup Studio that provides engineering support, business development services, and funding to create and support companies commercializing medical devices. The Studio works with inventors to develop their ideas into working prototypes and marketable products and form companies that will grow and create value for both their shareholders and all of society. MDC Studio Baltimore is located in the historic Wilkens-Robins building in the heart of Baltimore, near the University of Maryland Medical Center, and Johns Hopkins University where MDC’s founding partners and affiliates practice, teach, and research state of the art surgery and medicine.