Brad Mahon, one of the cofounders of MindTrace, uses the software in an operating room. Photo courtesy of MindTrace

When a task is simple, we say “it’s not brain surgery” because we all know just how complicated actual brain surgery is. So complicated, in fact, that the results often can’t be predicted.

But MindTrace, a Carnegie Mellon University spinoff company, has just been rewarded for its work in helping brain surgeons predict what the cognitive outcome is going to be for a patient before the first cut is made.

For its work in ensuring that patients who undergo surgery are still the same person they were before going under the knife, MindTrace has won the first-place prize of LifeX Labs and Pittsburgh Life Science Greenhouse’s co-sponsored Life Sciences Accelerator program for the spring.

The Life Sciences Accelerator is a 13-week program that includes mentoring and educational components, culminating in a pitch event with judges. The program is designed to support life sciences entrepreneurs throughout the region. Just eight to 10 companies are accepted into each cohort.

The top prize is a package of services valued at more than $50,000 that includes legal and advisory services from Troutman Pepper, nonprofit consulting support from Fourth River Solutions, access to the PitchBook search platform and mentoring with domain experts.

Max Sims, who co-founded MindTrace with Brad Mahon and Hugo Angulo, says what they value most are the connections made with other entrepreneurs. 

“The cohort we were in was excellent, and we really enjoyed getting to know the other teams,” Sims says. “I think everyone there has a pay-it-forward mindset, where there’s always teams ahead of you and there’s always teams behind you, and you do whatever you can do to make it easier for the next generation of teams in Pittsburgh.”

The prize will allow MindTrace to hire more people. 

“The prize package allows us to turn three people into 30 people,” Sims adds. “And really that’s the value of these kinds of programs is allowing startups to quickly tap expertise and fill blind spots that they couldn’t otherwise fill themselves.”

Sims says they are grateful and excited for what the future holds for the company. 

“I think everyone in the Pittsburgh community is trying to move us forward and we are very grateful for the time, energy and effort people have invested in us and I look forward to repaying that,” Sims says. 

The second-place winner, Vanish, a nerve stimulator with biodegradable electrodes for mitigation of chronic neuropathic pain, was awarded a package valued at $35,000. Chemia.ai, a software system aimed at discovering new bioactive molecules, received a package valued at $10,000 and an honorable mention.

Tia is a senior journalism student at Point Park and an intern at NEXT. She loves movies, Pittsburgh and cats.