Sepsis, bodily shock and trauma from extreme injuries like car accidents or gunshot wounds are medical conditions with an unfortunate similarity.

They’re all deadly.

But a Durham startup called 410 Medical hopes to introduce another similarity—a solution. With $2.1 million from the newly established Triangle Venture Alliance, a network of angel groups tied to Triangle universities, the solution may soon be used by doctors to treat critically ill children.

410 Medical has developed a low cost device called LifeFlow that speeds up the delivery of fluids, thus increasing a patient’s chance of survival and recovery.

Co-founders Luke Roush, a managing partner at San Francisco-based Sovereign’s Capital, and Mark Piehl, a pediatric intensivist at WakeMed with clinical faculty appointments in Pediatrics at the UNC and Duke, dreamt up the device as way to decrease mortality, especially among the critically ill children Piehl treats.

Wake Med doctors use 410 Medical’s LifeFlow Device to help a child; Photo Credit: 410 Medical

Sepsis alone causes five million deaths among children each year, mostly because it infects so quickly. It’s also among the most expensive conditions to treat in hospitals—ranking first in 2013.

LifeFlow offers a quick and inexpensive way to treat illnesses like sepsis. It can deliver a liter of fluid through a 20-gauge catheter in less than five minutes, a far shorter time than an IV bag takes to deliver the same amount of fluid. And it is as efficient but far more affordable than power infusers—the other solution often used by medical providers—which can cost upwards of $80,000 per device. LifeFlow kits sell for $242.50, and include everything a provider needs to use on the spot.

410 Medical’s life-saving medical device, LifeFlow, rapidly infuses fluids into sepsis, trauma, and shock victims; Photo Credit: 410 Medical

In a sea full of medical apps and digital devices, the LifeFlow is unusually and decidedly low-tech. The internet isn’t required to operate it, data doesn’t stream from it to a computer, and it doesn’t even need to be plugged into an electrical outlet—it’s just an IV bag requiring human hands.

Even so, the company racked up a number of prestigious awards for innovation in 2016 and a chance to pitch at CED’s Life Science Conference this past February.

Total investments in the medical device company now exceed $8.7 million and today’s funding helped the company surpass a Series A goal of $5 million by $300,000.

“The strong interest in the financing reflects the interest in LifeFlow and the understanding of the unmet need,” says CEO Kyle Chenet.

The investment is the first from the alliance formed just last year by four of the region’s universities: Duke University, North Carolina State University, North Carolina Central University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

While each are working to establish networks of their own alumni, over 300 members so far can also invest together in university-affiliated deals vetted by the alliance.

The alliance was established with a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and a $150,000 grant from NC IDEA in 2016 as part of its Ecosystem Partner grant fund. It is housed within the Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship initiative.

410 Medical was chosen by the alliance based on “the high quality of the product and the high quality of the team in place there,” says Nancy Knowles, director of communications for TVA. The company also has ties to three local universities: UNC is Piehl’s alma mater and workplace, Duke University is Roush’s alma mater and NC State biomedical engineering undergraduate students helped build the initial prototype.

410 Medical’s Signature Device, LifeFlow, in Use by WakeMed Doctors; Photo Credit: 410 Medical

410 Medical plans to use the Series A to fund commercial growth and continued R&D. The team won’t close the round just yet, but plans to evaluate needs and “be opportunistic,” Chenet says.

The TVA funding will mean more to 410 Medical than just capital, he adds. The network offers connections to target customers and potential partners or collaborators—clinicians, hospitals, medical providers, scientists, and other investors.

It also has a charge that the Durham-based startup can get behind: “TVA is committed to advancing innovation in NC and 410 is eager to be part of that mission,” Chenet says.