NuvOx Pharma quality-control chemist Nelene DeGuzman prepares to check manufactured samples of an anti-cancer drug.

Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star

Three Tucson-based companies with University of Arizona ties are among 10 finalists for the Fall 2014 Arizona Innovation Challenge, a biannual business plan competition sponsored by the Arizona Commerce Authority.

Winning startups and early-stage companies get up to $250,000 each in grant funding to grow their businesses. Winners of the latest contest will be named later this month.

The local finalists are Dermspectra LLC, which has developed a full-body imaging system to help track skin health; NuvOx Pharma, which is developing a drug to make tumors more vulnerable to radiation therapy; and Park Genius, which has developed a mobile parking-meter payment app.

Dermspectra was founded by Karleen Seybold, a former senior engineering manager at Raytheon, and Dr. Clara Curiel, a dermatologist, researcher, and skin cancer and pigmented lesion expert at the UA.

NuvOx was founded and is led by Dr. Evan Unger, a UA professor of radiology and bioengineering and a Arizona Cancer Center. Park Genius was founded by three graduates of the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program at the UA Eller College of Management, Thomas Maguire, Austin Weiss and Ross Shanken.

The Commerce Authority commits $3 million annually to the Innovation Challenge — $1.5 million in both the spring and the fall. Companies receiving awards will be required to commercialize their technology and generate revenue within the subsequent 12 months of the award.

The other Innovation Challenge finalists are: CampusLogic of Gilbert; Energy Conservation Management, Scottsdale; Iris PR Management, Phoenix; Iron Horse Diagnostics Inc., Scottsdale; Pure Chat, Scottsdale; RightBio Metrics, Scottsdale; and Spotlight Software, Peoria.

Two Tucson-area firms were named winners in the spring 2014 Innovation Challenge:

  • Triton Microtechnologies, an integrated circuit manufacturing technology company based in Oro Valley; and
  • World View
  • Enterprises
  • , a company developing high-altitude balloon technology to provide trips to near-space for tourism,
  • research
  • and industry uses.