Sullivan Center Venture Fellowship with Air Surgical Inc.

Location: San Diego, CA Experience Type: Research Opportunities

Market Research

Air Surgical, Inc. is an early-stage MedTech/Medical Device startup company. The company’s mission is to enable a future of minimally invasive care. Air Surgical’s robots will help physicians more accurately insert needles to treat several medical conditions, including kidney, liver, and bone cancer. Currently, doctorsvperform these procedures by hand, relying on their own mental map for guidance. Our product is a lightweightvand slender robotic arm that fits inside a CT scanner. Under physician supervision, the robot positions the needle and holds it steady as they insert. The system requires minimal training, has a simple setup procedure, and helps the physician consistently hit the target on the first try in even the most challenging procedures.

Today, the standard of care is manual, unguided insertion. Physicians have access to several assistive technologies, including augmented reality visual overlays, real-time GPS-style tracking systems, and robotic positioning systems. However, these existing solutions have received limited adoption due to their difficult setup, insufficient accuracy, and unreliability. This project is led by the co-founders of Air Surgical Inc., Dimitri Schreiber (UCSD PhD ’22) and Daniel Henderson (UCSD MBA ’21) who have expertise in robotics and medical devices, and are supported by world-class clinical and entrepreneurial advisors.


Team applications, with members from varying disciplines, are favored. However, solo applicants are very welcome to apply – if you are accepted, you’ll be assigned to a team.

Academic Credit

Second-year Rady graduate students may pursue this project as a 2 Unit Independent Study—MGT 499 for Summer 2023.

Team members in Schools outside of Rady may appeal to their respective departments for Independent Study credit per their department policies.

Non-Credit: Any Team is invited to apply and may pursue this project without credit.


MARKET: Provide a quantitative market analysis on the image-guided surgery space. Include details on the submarkets in each of the two primary markets: cancer care and spinal surgery. Provide market sizing analysis for each segment and submarket. Provide a top-down market sizing for the combined market (TAM, SAM, SOM). Provide a bottom-up marketing sizing analysis by evaluating the market opportunity with one provider and extrapolating up to the region, state, etc.

Approximately one market subsegment each week, to be presented at end of week (kidney, liver, osteoplasty
and fixation, neural/spinal) include:
• Bottom-up and top-down sizing. This should take into account differences in insurance CPT codes and should be subject to relevant constraints, such as number of IR’s, number of hospitals, etc.
• Market distribution: Is the landscape spread out or concentrated? Do 10% of hospitals do 90% of procedures? Who are the highest volume providers?
• Competitive landscape: What competitors and substitutes (e.g. alternative treatments) are already in the space? What are their relative strengths? Who might enter the market soon?
• Any other relevant considerations (e.g. how friendly is this subsegment to the idea of robotic surgery?)
• SWOT analysis

SYNTHESIS. Which market, if any, is most promising? Which, if any, should we enter, and why? This should take into account the information gathered and shared in the previous four weeks but may also build on it. Team will present their findings, as seen in Deliverables section.


The Venture Fellow Team will provide a 6-8-page report and a 5-7 slide PowerPoint presentation to the Center and Air Surgical founders, including its findings, sources, recommendations, and other elements outlined under Scope. The report will also include a discussion of challenges the team faced in securing its results, reflections on the Venture Fellow experience, and any recommendations the team may have regarding the Venture Fellows process.

Time Frame

The Project requires approximately 5-6 hours per week for 8-10 weeks, including a weekly Zoom meeting with the Founders and Project Mentor. In-person meetings may also be required.


The Fellows will work diligently and professionally with the Institute’s Executive Director, the Founders, and Mentor. The Fellow(s) will meet for ~90 minutes for a kick-off meeting with the leadership team and others relevant to the project. The Fellows are expected to self-learn skills, techniques, and research methods required to provide meaningful insights to the Founders.

Each Fellow is expected to contribute substantively to the Project. The Executive Director will seek input from each member of the Fellows Team as to their own contribution as well as their perspectives on the contributions of other Team members.

The Fellows are expected to work independently and meet with the Founders and Mentor for approximately 60-75 minutes once a week (via zoom) for the project duration to report on progress and discuss any questions or issues. The Team may also be required to meet and report to the Center’s Executive Director or others on a more regular basis.

Toward the project’s conclusion, the Venture Fellow(s) will meet with the Founders, the Mentor, and the Center’s Executive Director for a 90-minute discussion of the team’s findings. The entire team, including the Founder and Mentor, will be available for a photo.

NOTE: Your team may be joined by a student from another department within Rady or from another area of campus.

Apply By June 21

University Sponsor

Sullivan Center of Entrepreneurship

Experience Information

Air Surgical, Inc.
Apply By
Jun 21, 2023
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