Baltimore med-tech startup Sisu Global Health lands $100,000 prize

DreamIt Health bootcamp participant wins pitch competition at 'Rise of the Rest' tour stop in Baltimore

Image caption: Members of the Sisu Global Health team accept the $100,000 top prize at the 'Rise of the Rest' pitch competition in Baltimore on Monday.

After moving to Baltimore last spring to take part in an accelerator program co-sponsored by Johns Hopkins, the Sisu Global Health startup has just scored a big win.

The medical technology company nabbed $100,000 Monday night as part of "Rise of the Rest," launched by AOL co-founder and former CEO Steve Case. The five-city tour is designed to bring attention and funding to startups outside of traditional tech hubs like Silicon Valley and New York City.

Sisu edged out seven other Baltimore-based teams in the live pitch competition to claim the top prize.

The team at Sisu is working to develop advanced medical devices for emerging markets, including Sub-Saharan Africa. In particular, they're focused on launching their own product in West Africa: Hemafuse, a surgical tool for recycling a patient's own blood from internal bleeding.

Founded by three women in Grands Rapids, Michigan, the startup moved to Baltimore this spring to join the four-month DreamIt Health bootcamp. Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Medicine are among the co-sponsors of the program, which seeds startups with some initial funding, workspaces, and connections to investors.

With the "Rise of the Rest" victory, the Sisu team is now committed to cementing its ties to Baltimore, company co-founder Katie Kirsch said in an email.

"We only officially moved here this past spring for the DreamIt Health accelerator and were so impressed by the support offered by the community, in terms of what's needed for a startup to grow: space, legal/accounting services, access to clinical/global health expertise, and even better access to our customers through the large African Diaspora here," she wrote.

Sisu was among the eight Baltimore startups—including five directly connected to Hopkins—that vied for the top prize Monday.

In an interview with The Baltimore Sun, Case called Sisu's medical technology "kind of a change-the-world idea."

Sisu has conducted clinical studies on its device with Johns Hopkins and has already raised $500,000 as it works toward distributing the surgical tool in Ghana next year, The Sun reported.

Baltimore was the first stop of the bus tour for Case and his "Rise of the Rest" team, who are traveling through the Northeast this week to spotlight emerging technology hubs.