Phenomix Sciences, a Mayo Clinic spinoff that uses a customized blood test to help identify the "subtype" of obesity and guide the most effective treatment for each patient, is a $500,000 winner of the Meda Million Dollar Challenge for Minority Entrepreneurs.

The second annual Meda Challenge, named for Metropolitan Economic Development Association, in connection with Twin Cities Startup Week, included two other winners, for a total of $1.2 million in prize money in a competition sponsored by JPMorgan Chase.

Phenomix, headed by Dr. Andres Acosta, an Ecuadorean immigrant and Mayo Clinic physician, has previously raised about $845,000 in seed capital, mostly from associates and family.

"I'm absolutely excited," Acosta, 38, said Monday. "We competed against 500 other applicants [before being named one of 22 finalists recently]. The finalists all had strong business propositions and ideas that will change the world. We were honored."

Acosta said the company will use the money to complete regulatory requirements and finish its laboratory in St. Paul. Phenomix Sciences expects to start commercialization of its test of obesity phenotypes by early 2020.

'Impressive business model'

"This will open doors to key people in industry and to advisers and investors who will help our company," Acosta said of the Meda award. "This a great opportunity for people like myself, who were not raised here. This is a great opportunity."

"Phenomix Sciences has an impressive business model," said Chair Barbara Butts Williams of the Meda board, in a prepared statement. "We, at Meda, are so inspired by incredible businesses like Phenomix Sciences who embrace innovation, knowledge, and opportunity."

Also Monday, Phenomix was named the $35,000-prize winner of the Innovative Minority-Led Business Prize of the Minnesota Cup, another competition connected to the ongoing Startup Week for hundreds of entrepreneurs and investors.

Phenomix says its inaugural test will disrupt the field of obesity management. The test is a diagnostic tool designed to help physicians and patients select an intervention from a spectrum of medications, medical devices and surgical options, with improved outcomes, lower incidence of side effects and lower overall cost.

Care+Wear, a New York maker of health-wear items such as recovery bras and mobility gloves, also was named a $500,000 prize winner of Meda's challenge.

Civic Eagle of Minneapolis won a $200,000 investment. Civic Eagle says it provides easy access and information that make government policies and legislation more accessible and transparent so that affected communities can better understand and advocate for themselves.

Meda provides business consulting, loans and market opportunities for minority entrepreneurs.

Neal St. Anthony • 612-673-7144