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‘Silicon Orchard’ Blossoms

the Sanguina team
The Sanguina team

Sanguina and Seoul Robotics, Two Startups Making an Impact

As the term “Silicon Orchard” is becoming more recognized in tech circles, Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners is becoming more recognized as a hot spot for startups and international companies that utilize smart technology. It is unique in that it’s a publicly-funded living lab designed to provide a real-world test environment to advance next-generation intelligent mobility and smart city technology. 

The proof is in the caliber of its collaborations with established powerhouses and emerging masterminds that put to work its all-electric autonomous shuttles, e-scooters, world-class solar roadway and mammoth EV charging hub to implement solutions that help build a greener, cleaner future for the planet.

If it ever really was a “hidden gem,” the word is out that Peachtree Corners is a place for innovation. The city recently announced that it was named the winner of the IDC Government Insights’ 6th Annual Smart Cities North America Award in the category of economic development, tourism, arts, libraries and culture open spaces.

To illustrate its diversity and commitment to supporting visionaries, take a look at two companies— one that’s locally born and been around since Curiosity Lab’s inception and another that is new to the “orchard” but has garnered international praise and has its applications in use across the globe.

Sanguina

For her entire life, Erica Tyburski has had to keep tabs on the level of iron in her blood.

“I’ve had iron deficiency anemia my whole life. I’ve been working with it,” she said. “It’s pretty common for women to experience some sort of nutritional deficiency anemia. And I happen to be one of those people that, throughout the phases of life and different growth spurts, has had symptoms that would be a little bit scary.

“I’ve been to the emergency room a couple of times for this and have passed out during PE in grade school,” she shared. 

While working on her degree in biomedical engineering from Georgia Tech, Tyburski started working on what she calls a “passion project” that turned into a technology startup — Sanguina.

“I was inspired to work on a solution that could help me better manage anemia at home,” she said.

Serendipitously, she was partnered with another student who also had an iron deficiency. Robert Mannino, Sanguina’s chief technology officer, has anemia brought about from a genetic condition called beta thalassemia.

“He’s actually transfusion reliant. He’s anemic for a very different reason that I am, but we came together with the same passion and the same desire to create solutions for better anemia management at home,” said Tyburski. 

The pair worked with Professor Wilbur Lamb, who is now chief medical officer in the company. 

They started as a student/teacher group at the Georgia Institute of Technology with Mannino working on his PhD and Tyburski working on her bachelor’s degree.

“We worked on our technologies, and we now have a single-use disposable. We also have a smartphone app that can estimate hemoglobin levels,” said Tyburski. “We formulated the company out of the Georgia Tech and Emory University system. And we’ve done a number of things to really graduate to this point.

They moved the project out of the university, licensed their technology and IP from the university and were able to incorporate in 2019.

Home-grown talent

The Sanguina story is similar to many successful businesses in the Peachtree Corners area. Technology Park’s founder, Paul Duke, wanted to reduce the brain drain that was sending the best and brightest local college graduates out of the state.

“At our core, our company really goes to that initial founder’s passion. Our mission is to create and launch accessible tools for health and wellness. And our initial platform is all about anemia,” said Tyburski. 

For people with anemia, this kind of breakthrough gives them a freedom they didn’t have before. Anemia affects many different types of people for different reasons. Hemoglobin levels are similar to vital signs like blood pressure or pulse heart rate, Tyburski explained. 

“The first platform is our smartphone side,” she said. “We’re positioned just like other wearables. You see that there are smartwatches and apps out there that track these things, purely in the wellness arena, to give you another piece of information about your health, and for people struggling with nutritional deficiencies.”

The platform can also be used for someone who may be changing diets or for extreme athletes who need to carefully watch their regimen.

“It’s nice to be able to check and see if your symptoms match what’s going on in your body,” said Tyburski. “One of the things that was always so frustrating to me is to have your symptoms get to the point of needing an ER or an urgent care visit.”

She said she would have loved to be able to better track and monitor her condition prior to getting to the point where intervention from a medical practitioner was needed. Up until now, the only way to test iron levels in the blood has been through a lab.

Technology provides more equity of care

“I think the pandemic has certainly put us in a position to have these things more at home and in telemedicine practice as compared to before, but it really is about creating access for people and taking some of that burden off the healthcare system,” Tyburski said.

“If you think about it, the whole ‘get sick, feel bad and then get care’ model is breaking in the United States, and we really can’t afford using urgent cares and ERs for something completely preventable,” she added.

With low-income and rural patients unable to just drop into a lab or doctor’s office whenever they’re in need, the implications for such a breakthrough are immense.

“We’ve already reached 150,000 users with our app in the U.S. alone. We have over 750,000 uses on the app,” said Tyburski. “We’re starting to make a difference and we’re definitely seeing usage in areas that are underserved.

“Personally, that’s a huge win for me because that is part of the problem,” she continued. “I think a lot of people with infinite resources and the best healthcare can just drop in whenever they want to get checked out. I think there’s a huge equity situation going on with people in rural and urban communities that I’d like to address. Anemia is very prevalent in those communities.”

Besides the app, Sanguina also has a single-use disposable blood test. It takes a small amount of blood from a finger stick, similar to blood glucose monitoring. 

“We have a device cleared already with the FDA for laboratory use. And it’s a simple two-minute test,” said Tyburski. “It has a color result. You compare it to a color card. …This is the one that we’re hoping to get through the FDA for home use this year.”

Opportunity to help millions

The technology could be used for more people that have diseases that they’re managing. Anemia is the most common blood disorder, and according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. It affects more than 3,000,000 Americans.

“When I was growing up, I saw that diabetics were able to test themselves at home and I was like, ‘Gosh, why can’t I have something like that?’” Tyburski said.

A combination of having the right people supporting them and the right resources available is turning this dream into a reality. The team of Tyburski, Mannino and Lamb worked hard to obtain grants and win awards through Georgia Tech and Emory University, as well as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. 

“We’ve worked with Georgia Research Alliance quite a bit. We’ve kept a lot of things local, and I think having a really early start on that allowed us to create the resources in order to take this thing from a concept in a lab to full-on testing to an FDA clearance,” Tyburski said.

To date, Sanguina has accumulated about $3.5 million in non-diluted grant funding. With that type of financing, they didn’t have to give up shares of the business. 

“It wasn’t until spring of 2020 that we brought on any private investment and our company had been around a while before that,” she noted. 

Finding a home

Another stroke of luck was the connection with Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), Georgia Tech’s technology business incubator. Sanguina was among the first businesses involved with the satellite location that became Curiosity Lab.

“They have a system where it’s a ‘build it, scale it and grow it’ kind of thing, and we started out with the very, very lower tier of membership — just a dedicated desk for me,” Tyburski said. “Then we were able to get several desks, and then I got a private office. Then we had a large office. We’ve been there pretty much since the inception.”

With her husband being from Dunwoody, Tyburski had planned to settle in this part of metro Atlanta.

“He actually picked out Peachtree Corners and, in parallel, this ATDC connection was happening. It’s almost a perfect storm of where we ended up. …I live five minutes away from the office and I’m huge into supporting Peachtree Corners,” she said.

“I’m very proud of our address here at Peachtree Corners. It’s a great place and a great bed of technology and brilliant minds.”

Sanguina has launched a premium subscription for AnemoCheck, the first health app that estimates hemoglobin levels with a fingernail selfie.

The company is currently offering a free 30-day trial. No code is needed, and it is available on iPhone and Android.

Seoul Robotics

In March, Seoul Robotics, a leader in 3D perception software, established its United States office in Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners. Its presence in Curiosity Lab will fuel further development of its groundbreaking platform, while providing the company with a real-world testing environment along Peachtree Corners’ city streets.

“With our 3D smart infrastructure solutions already deployed in areas across the Southeast, establishing an office within Curiosity Lab was the logical next step as we continue to expand our U.S. presence,” said William Muller, Vice President of Business Development for Seoul Robotics in a press release.

“Our sensor-agnostic solutions provide 3D models and real-time perception of intersections, roadways and more. Peachtree Corners’ smart city and Curiosity Lab ecosystem is the ideal environment to deploy and test our technologies in a real-world environment.”

Although the Korean company could have chosen just about anywhere in the country to base its U.S. operations, Curiosity Lab met all its criteria.

“We’ve already deployed our 3D smart infrastructure solutions in numerous locations across the Southeast United States, so it made sense for us to establish an office at Curiosity Lab and extend our reach,” said Muller. “Our solutions are sensor agnostic and enable us to provide 3D models and real-time perception of intersections and roadways.”

One system, many applications

This technology uses deep learning to identify, track and predict hundreds of objects at once. Seoul Robotics has developed a system called SENSR which powers a wide range of infrastructure-based products and solutions. The company’s smart city-focused technologies make managing roadways simple, while improving safety, reducing traffic and decreasing vehicle emissions. 

“We are honored to have Seoul Robotics join the Curiosity Lab ecosystem,” said Peachtree Corners Assistant City Manager and CTO and Curiosity Lab Executive Director Brandon Branham, in a written statement. “Their cutting-edge technologies not only support city managers in improving everyday lives but will also work to enhance our smart city streets through actionable 3D insights.”

Founded in 2017 with a mission to unlock unparalleled insights and capabilities by capturing the world in 3D, Seoul Robotics uses AI deep learning and weather-filtering capabilities to provide accurate environmental insights. The software delivers transformative intelligence and capabilities across a wide range of industries, including Intelligent Transport Systems, security, smart cities and autonomous mobility.

The company is pioneering a new approach to automating vehicles called ‘Autonomy Through Infrastructure,’ providing infrastructure-based autonomous driving systems that do not require any hardware changes to vehicles themselves. Seoul Robotics has offices in Seoul, Korea, Munich, Germany, Irvine, California and now in metro Atlanta.

The company recently announced an expanded partnership with the Center of Urban Informatics and Progress (CUIP) at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to deliver 86 new smart city intersections which will be the largest urban IoT deployment of its kind in the United States. 

“By utilizing 3D data from our new intersections, we will gain quantifiable insights to help us prepare for the transition to electric vehicles, improve driving mobility and optimize our traffic management system. These insights will enable us to map ideal locations for EV charging stations, monitor infrastructure utilization and optimize routes to alleviate congestion and reduce emissions,” said Muller.

“Another safety-focused deployment is our Wrong-Way Detection solution which detects and alerts instances of wrong-way driving on freeways and highways and is currently deployed in California, Florida and Tennessee, as well as in Europe and Asia,” he added. “This ITS solution will help alert drivers to correct course and notify authorities to intervene when needed in order to prevent incidents and ultimately, save lives.”

Partnerships add new levels

Seoul Robotics partnered with BMW in 2022 to develop LV5 CTRL TWR, a mesh network of sensors and computers that are installed on infrastructure and use telematics and 5G connectivity to operate regular cars as autonomous vehicles. This technology can be applied in controlled environments and has the power to transform operations for logistics, automated valet parking and warehousing. 

“All of our solutions are powered by our core technology SENSR which is the industry’s most accurate 3D perception platform,” explained Muller. “The advanced software leverages deep learning AI to seamlessly track, detect and identify objects within four-centimeter accuracy for unparalleled reliability in all ITS deployments.”

He noted that with its dynamic weather-filtering capabilities, SENSR guarantees the highest level of accuracy in any condition, day or night, and despite the weather.

It recently announced a partnership with Temple, a leader in the intelligent transportation systems industry. 

“The distribution partnership with Temple will expand access to our 3D sensor-based traffic and ITS solutions within public sector departments in the Southeast. By deploying our smart infrastructure systems in cities, we can provide more detailed insights into pedestrian and vehicle interactions, improving traffic mobility and enabling informed city planning decisions,” said Muller.

But as anyone familiar with smart technology knows, you’re only as good as your most recent innovation. That’s why Seoul Robotics isn’t resting on this particular breakthrough.

“We’re constantly working to enhance our SENSR platform, increasing accuracy, ease of use and scalability,” said Muller. “As a company, Seoul Robotics works closely with global partners to collaborate on solutions and deployments across industries — and we’re always looking for innovative ways to leverage 3D perception to make real-world impact.”

Arlinda Smith Broady is part of the Boomerang Generation of Blacks that moved back to the South after their ancestors moved North. With approximately three decades of journalism experience (she doesn't look it), she's worked in tiny, minority-based newsrooms to major metropolitans. At every endeavor she brings professionalism, passion, pluck, and the desire to spread the news to the people.

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