Directions 2021: From vaccines to apps for truck drivers, Lincoln startups mark big year for investments

MatMa of Lincoln has received emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration for use of its protable COVID-19 testing system.

Last year, depending on how you look at it, might be considered the biggest year ever for Lincoln-based startups.

It all comes down to whether you still consider Hudl, which is nearing its 15th birthday, a startup company. Experts disagree, with some arguing that Hudl, which has 2,300 employees and offices in four countries, is now a mature company.

If you consider Hudl a startup, then the $120 million it raised last year from Bain Capital dwarfs any capital raised in the history not just of Lincoln startups but any in the state of Nebraska. In fact, the investment, on its own, would match the annual record for startup investments in the state, set in 2015.

But even if you don't consider Hudl a startup and overlook the massive investment, it was still a banner year for local startup companies.

Two of them, Adjuvance Technologies and Virtual Incision, raised $20 million apiece just a week apart last January.

Both have since validated those investments by taking big steps forward. Adjuvance, which makes an agent called an adjuvant that can make vaccines more effective, recently announced it has partnered with Oragenics Inc. to develop a second-generation vaccine for COVID-19.

Virtual Incision in October received an investigational device exemption from the Food and Drug Administration to allow it to do a clinical study using its minimally invasive surgical robots.

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