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Cancer Institute Gives Grant to Corvida

A Coralville-based medical device startup has been given a huge vote of confidence from a top health organization.

Officials with Corvida Medical said the company had received an innovation grant from the National Cancer Institute. The research grant has a floor of $1.5 million but ultimately could net Corvida more than $2 million.

Corvida is developing a device aimed at ensuring the safety of those who prepare and administer chemotherapy to cancer patients. The company was founded by John Slump and Jared Garfield in 2008 while they were students at the University of Iowa.

The company will use the grant during a two-year testing period to defray costs involved with getting clearance from the Food and Drug Administration and to start testing the device at hospitals across the country, including Iowa Health System facilities.

The grant comes on the heels of a previous grant from the institute that helped the company move through feasibility studies to ensure there was a need for the product. The testing project funded by the Phase II grant will run through September 2014.

Slump said the grant was further validation of the company’s hard work.

“There was a time, a few years back, when we did a focus group of some of the nation’s foremost experts that validated to us that it was a big enough problem,” said Slump, 26. “We deemed it worthy of us to put our hearts and souls into it and take money from family and friends to pursue it.”

Since then, it’s been much more than just family and friends investing.

In May, the state gave Corvida a $500,000 loan through the Iowa Innovation Acceleration Fund, a program launched this year to help tech startups. Corvida was the first company to receive a loan through the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s program.

Venture capitalists also have helped the company, based at UI’s research park, through a couple of successful rounds of investment. Slump declined to disclose the size of the company’s most recent round of investment but did say it was “multiple millions.”

Slump noted that much of their success has come from both his and Garfield’s participation in the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center at UI and the Okoboji Entrepreneurial Institute.

“Corvida Medical is a wonderful example of what a couple of business undergraduates can do if they put their mind to it,” he said. “It’s just great to see the Iowa business community, from the state of Iowa through investors, supporting an emerging technology company like this one.”

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