NJIT Graduates, Faculty Launch Virtual Reality-based HealthTech With NJEDA Support
OculoMotor Technologies' Management Team. From left: John Vito d'Antonio-Bertagnolli, Chief Executive Officer, Chang Yaramothu, Ph.D., Chief Technology Officer, and Tara L. Alvarez, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer.
NEWARK, N.J. (August 20, 2019) – New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) spinout OculoMotor Technologies is garnering worldwide attention for the creation of virtual reality games that help optometrists offer vision therapy to their patients. The startup, which was founded by a management team that includes NJIT graduates John Vito d'Antonio-Bertagnolli and Chang Yaramothu and NJIT professor Tara L. Alvarez, recently became the third company to benefit from rent support through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s (NJEDA’s) NJ Ignite Program following its move to NJIT’s VentureLink business incubator.
NJ Ignite helps startup companies realize the benefits of collaborative workspaces – incubators, accelerators, and coworking spaces – by providing up to nine months of rent support for startup technology and life sciences businesses that are moving to an approved collaborative workspace. Statistics have shown that startups that operate from collaborative workspaces are far more likely to succeed than companies going it alone.
OculoMotor Technologies’ virtual reality games focus on helping patients correct a condition known as convergence insufficiency, in which a person’s eyes are unable to work together when looking at nearby objects. OculoMotor Technologies’ virtual reality games address this by training patients to cross their eyes to look at objects and then transition those skills to everyday life.
“I’ve always had an affinity for virtual reality, so I was excited to use my time at NJIT to combine this passion with my interest in biomedical engineering to develop the concept for OculoMotor Technologies,” d'Antonio-Bertagnolli said. “We’ve been fortunate to benefit from the combination of support from NJIT amenities and talent pool, State resources, and investments from local investors. The sense of entrepreneurial community is one of the main reasons we chose to stay and grow in New Jersey.”
OculoMotor Technologies announced late last month that it had received a $500,000 commitment from Foundation Venture Capital Group, LLC, an affiliate of New Jersey Health Foundation (NJHF).
In addition to developing tools to correct vision, OculoMotor Technologies is creating opportunities for emerging innovators. OculoMotor routinely hires NJIT students as interns.
“OculoMotor Technologies is a rising star at our VentureLink facility and within the industry,” NJIT President Dr. Joel Bloom said. “NJIT has repeatedly been cited as a Top 50 university worldwide and it’s a credit to graduates like John and Chang, who are committed to the success of the next generation of entrepreneurs, that we remain as a leader in innovation and education.”
VentureLink is New Jersey’s largest technology and life science business incubator and is one of more than a dozen collaborative workspaces approved to offer rent support through NJ Ignite. The 108,000-square-foot center currently hosts more than 60 member companies, including NJIT students and alumni. Tenant companies frequently collaborate and share resources and ideas.
NJ Ignite is made possible through a combination of support from the NJEDA and the collaborative workspace, with the NJEDA covering up to six months’ rent and the workspace covering rent for half the length of NJEDA’s commitment. Due to its affiliation with NJIT, VentureLink can offer its companies participating in NJ Ignite an additional month of rent support.
“Investing in New Jersey’s entrepreneurial community is critical to jumpstarting New Jersey’s innovation economy,” NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan said. “Collaborative workspaces such as VentureLink are ideal for young companies that have limited resources and entrepreneurs who have a desire to network with other innovators. We are thrilled to see how NJ Ignite is positively impacting this vital sector.”
The company also received 2018 Auggie Awards in the categories of Most Innovative Breakthrough and Female XR Laureate. The Auggie Awards are considered the most recognized industry augmented reality and virtual reality awards in the world.