A local biotech company that develops nipple-regenerating technology won $75,000 in equity-free funds, the second-highest award in a Texas startup competition that concluded Thursday.

NovoThelium, founded in San Antonio by Bianca Cerqueira and Lauren Cornell, was one of two $75,000 winners in the contest, which awarded a total of $500,000 in prize money to eight of the top startups in the Texas-centric 84-startup contest. Monetary awards from MassChallenge Texas will go toward a four-month accelerator, a program for early-stage startups to receive support for growing their business.

NovoThelium’s technology uses donated human tissue combined with nipple tissue removed during a mastectomy to create a nipple tissue engineering scaffold, which is then grafted and stitched onto the breast during reconstructive surgery.

The patient’s cells then repopulate the nipple scaffold to create a nipple from his or her own cells.

In 2015, Cerqueira and Cornell launched their bioengineering venture with the aim of providing an alternative to breast reconstruction surgery.

“After surveying many patients we discovered not everyone is interested in reconstruction surgeries,” Cerqueira told the Rivard Report last year. “This may be due to the limitations of current reconstruction methods.”

The startup was the only San Antonio-based company to win prize money in the MassChallenge Texas Accelerator. Thirty-two percent of the 84-startup cohort were female founders, according to MassChallenge.

Cerqueira and Cornell used cash prizes to found their biotech company. They also have won monetary awards at Launch SA’s Venture Challenge Awards, Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition, and the InnovateHER business challenge.

JJ Velasquez

JJ Velasquez

JJ Velasquez was a columnist, former editor and reporter at the San Antonio Report.