Tennis ball with top spin.

WashU alum’s Topspin Labs cultivates spinoff ventures

Topspin Labs founder Mike Keymer, BS ’98, graduated from Washington University with a degree in civil engineering. After a master’s degree in ­construction management, an MBA, and plenty of contractor experience, he decided to switch fields and build something new.

Keymer
Photo by Andres Alonso

In 2012, Keymer co-founded Topspin Labs, an incubator that helps companies create spinoffs. Topspin works with organizations whose technologies have been proven in one industry but could have potential business applications in another. Those companies can come to Topspin, and if the idea seems viable, the two will partner to co-found a startup. Keymer and his team step in to lead that startup in its initial stages, and then they transition the growing company into the hands of new leaders for the long term.

 

“When it gets to a certain stage, I know it will be the right time for me to step aside for someone else to grow it faster than I’m able. My job will then be to start working on the next company.”

One of those new startups is Origent Data Sciences, which is using data science to improve clinical research for ­neurological and neuromuscular diseases such as ALS and ­Parkinson’s disease. Origent’s technology models how a patient’s symptoms are likely to progress, based on many factors of the patient’s ­disease. Researchers can then tell if a subject is ­responding to the drugs they’re testing, or if the disease ­progression simply slowed naturally.

Keymer has been Origent’s CEO since 2013, and its technology is already being used in human clinical trials. The company has ­developed predictive models for a dozen symptoms, created methods to optimize the success of human ­clinical trials and helped accelerate cures getting to market. Origent is also branching out to accelerate clinical trials in other diseases such as Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s and to help doctors use predictive models for improving patient care.

Keymer hopes to continue growing Origent into a major ­business, but he’s prepared to hand over the reins.

“When it gets to a certain stage, I know it will be the right time for me to step aside for someone else to grow it faster than I’m able. My job will then be to start working on the next company,” Keymer says.

Read more about Mike Keymer and Origent at the Source.