Rowan Innovation Venture Fund backs tech startup, MRIMath, LLC

Rowan Innovation Venture Fund backs tech startup, MRIMath, LLC

Dr. Nidhal Bouaynaya is co-founder of MRIMath, LLC. The company uses AI to dramatically improve the early detection of brain tumors.

The Rowan Innovation Venture Fund has made a $200,000 investment into MRIMath, LLC, a Rowan University-affiliated startup that uses artificial intelligence to dramatically improve the detection of brain tumors—as much as three years earlier than the standard of care. 

The medical technology company was co-founded in 2017 by Dr. Nidhal Carla Bouaynaya, professor of electrical & computer engineering and associate dean for research and graduate studies at Rowan University, and Dr. Hassan Fathallah-Shaykh, a neuro-oncologist and mathematician at the University of Alabama at Birmingham - School of Medicine. 

Established in 2014 by the Rowan University Foundation to support entrepreneurship and innovation within the Rowan community, the Rowan Innovation Venture Fund provides capital funding to assist faculty, students, alumni and staff with commercializing their products and services and provides an opportunity to invest in Rowan-generated technologies, intellectual property, inventions and businesses.  

MRIMath, LLC, earlier received support from the National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program (Phases I and II), the National Science Foundation, the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology and the Innovate Alabama award. Now in the testing phase of development, MRIMath is working to get its AI platform, called i2Contour,  into commercial use. 

“By using AI, physicians can identify conditions much quicker, promoting early intervention and saving lives while cutting costs,” Bouaynaya said. 

The Rowan Innovation Venture Fund views MRIMath’s technology as “an innovative solution to a significant problem in a sizable market,” said Ernest D. Holtzheimer, the fund’s managing director. 

“Nidhal and her co-founder, Hassan, have developed exciting AI technology that will help physicians make more reliable treatment decisions and improve patients' lives after treatment,” Holtzheimer said. “They've also established a well-respected team with the scientific and business experience and connections that will be needed to take their company to the next level—and they have proven that their team is coachable and willing to take advice from their investors and advisers, which is a quality we look for in all of our potential investment opportunities.”  

The Rowan Innovation Venture Fund has backed a dozen companies since its inception, including, among other Rowan-affiliated companies, ReGelTec, founded by Provost Tony Lowman; Ocumedic, founded by Dr. Mark Byrne, founding head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering; and Arke Aeronautics, founded by three Rowan alumni. 

The fund also supports the annual Rowan Idea Challenge student competition and has partnered with the School of Innovation and Entrepreneurship to establish a Seed Opportunity Fund in support of first-generation and underrepresented aspiring entrepreneurs. To date, the fund has invested more than $2.3 million into companies founded by Rowan students, faculty and alumni.