PhotoniCare Inc.

Leveraging biomedical engineering, business, and even parenting expertise, Stephen Boppart, MD, PhD, and Ryan Shelton, PhD, developed the CLEARVIEW™ otoscope, which enables physicians to better diagnose and manage ear infections.

Boppart and Shelton realized that many of the tools used by physicians were rudimentary, limiting patient care and recovery. This realization, plus the frustration and pain Shelton experienced as the parent of a child with recurring ear infections, prompted the development of PhotoniCare, a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign startup. 

While current technology used to diagnose ear infections is an otoscope—which simply provides a picture of the eardrum surface—PhotoniCare’s technology allows physicians to look through the eardrum to directly visualize the infection in the middle ear. This new information could improve decision-making for the use of antibiotics and surgery, resulting in improved outcomes for children with this common disease.

OTM protected the intellectual property so the company could move forward, while IllinoisVENTURES provided seed funding, business advice, and served as a resource for other potential investors. The IllinoisVENTURES team facilitated many important introductions that helped PhotoniCare secure additional funding. In addition to providing PhotoniCare a homebase, EnterpriseWorks has afforded many valuable opportunities and resources for development and growth. I-Start funding allowed PhotoniCare to seek advice for legal documents, build a website, and other necessary steps to establish the company. The company also engages with EnterpriseWorks staff and participates in countless entrepreneurial programs and events.

In 2015, PhotoniCare received the Pediatric Device Innovator Award from the FDA, in partnership with Sheikh Zayed Research Institute.