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QB Sonic, a Start-Up NY firm at Stony Brook, is closing

QB Sonic CEO Sharon Barkume, seated, and chief

QB Sonic CEO Sharon Barkume, seated, and chief technology officer Yi-Xian Qin in their lab at Stony Brook University on Monday, Dec. 7, 2015. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

A startup company formed at Stony Brook University and accepted into Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s tax-free zones program is closing, officials said this week.

QB Sonic Inc., which was developing an ultrasound stimulator device to treat osteoporosis, is no longer a going concern.

“We’re dissolving,” CEO Sharon Barkume said in a brief interview on Wednesday.

Stony Brook officials cited financial problems as the reason for the company’s demise.

“They were not able to raise the private investment that they had hoped to raise,” Ann-Marie Scheidt, Stony Brook’s economic development director, said on Thursday. “That does not mean there is something wrong with the technology.”

State records show that QB’s technology was supported by $6 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health and NASA.

Scheidt said Stony Brook would seek to license the technology to another company, preferably a locally grown startup.

QB was accepted into Cuomo’s Start-Up NY tax-free zones program in early 2015 based on promises to create five jobs by 2020 and purchase $25,000 worth of equipment, according to its application.

Start-Up NY companies don’t pay state and local taxes for 10 years, and their new employees don’t pay state income taxes for as long as 10 years.

QB rented space at the Long Island High Technology Incubator building on the Stony Brook campus. The company was founded in 2014 by Barkume, a patent attorney, and Yi-Xian Qin, director of Stony Brook’s Orthopedic Bioengineering Research Laboratory.

Qin spent more than 10 years developing the technology behind the ultrasound stimulator, which aimed to be an alternative to medication in the treatment of osteoporosis, according to the Start-Up NY application. More than 50 million Americans, particularly older women, suffer from weak and brittle bones that put them at risk of fractures, medical studies have found.

Scheidt, the Stony Brook official, said QB’s demise doesn’t reflect poorly on the university’s participation in Start-Up NY.

An official with Empire State Development, the state agency that oversees Start-Up NY, agreed.

“This is the nature of business — some startups fail, while some become the next Google or Facebook,” agency spokesman Jason Conwall said.

There are 22 Start-Up NY participants in Nassau and Suffolk counties; most are at Stony Brook.


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