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Posted on Tue, Jul 20, 2010 : 10 a.m.

Breast cancer detection technology prompts expansion for Delphinus Medical Technologies

By Nathan Bomey

A startup company developing a high-tech alternative to traditional mammography plans to open its first office in the Michigan Life Science and Innovation Center, a Plymouth Township business incubator led by economic development group Ann Arbor SPARK.

Delphinus Medical Technologies, which spun out of the Karmanos Cancer Institute, expects to hire 109 employees over the next five years, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

The firm plans to hire between 10 and 20 people, mostly software experts, over the next 12 months, said founder and CEO Bill Greenway

MEDC's Michigan Economic Growth Authority Board today is expected to approve a 5-year tax credit worth $779,118 to offset the cost of the company's growth.

Delphinus is developing a system called SoftVue, which involves submersing a woman's breast in water and using ultrasound waves to construct complex 3D images, giving doctors a better chance at detecting cancer and identifying the difference between cancer and benign growths.

"If all goes well for the company, over the course of probably the next three to five years, we would hope to get regulatory approval for the product and go commercial and start selling the product and eventually start production of the product," Greenway said. "That would obviously entail significant growth."

Green said the SoftVue system -- which could hit the market within 24 months -- eliminates ionized radiation and doesn't require breast compression, making the process more comfortable for the patient.

The company plans to move into 5,000 square feet of the 57,000-square-foot incubator, which is also home to Lipitor co-discoverer Roger Newton's Esperion Therapeutics and University of Michigan scientist Gary Glick's Lycera Corp.

“The Ann Arbor region continues to be a magnet for growing, high-tech companies,” SPARK CEO Michael Finney said in a statement. “Ann Arbor offers a truly unique combination of resources that make the region a fertile place to plant a business."

Delphinus is in the rare position of drawing virtually all its funding from Ann Arbor venture capital companies. Its investors include: Ann Arbor-based Arboretum Ventures, one of the Midwest's top health care technology investment firms; North Coast Technology Investors, which maintains offices in downtown Ann Arbor and Midland; the Wolverine Venture Fund, which is led by U-M students; and Beringea, a global investment firm with an office in Farmington Hills and an active presence in the Ann Arbor community.

Greenway said investors recognized that traditional mammography's "substantial shortcomings" opened the door for an improved process.

"The VCs looked at that and said obviously there's an opportunity here," he said.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.