Cancer Detection, Oil Spill Cleanup, Quantum Computing and New Medical Device: Meet the Spring 2022 Innovation Fund Finalists

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Previous finalists have built exciting technologies across a wide range of industries representative of the core strengths of the University and its partners. (Image: iStock.com/AntonioSolano)

Three teams have been selected as finalists for the George Shultz Innovation Fund’s Spring 2022 investment round – bringing to the fore solutions to scale quantum computers, sustainably clean up oil spills, detect cancer with saliva and improve medical devices.

Managed by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the George Shultz Innovation Fund provides up to $250,000 in co-investment funding for early-stage technology companies from the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, Fermilaband the Marine biology laboratory.

>> Register to attend the Innovation Fund Virtual Finals on May 25.

“Through the programmatic reach of the Innovation Fund, we are able to surround these tech startups with a community of support – including distinguished angel and venture investors, potential customers, advisors, scientists, entrepreneurs and industry partners – to help move their projects forward,” said Ozge Guney Altay, Director of Polsky Science Ventures.

“The startups we invest in undergo rigorous venture capital-style due diligence conducted by a multidisciplinary team at Innovation Fund Associates,” Altay added. “Our core mission with the Innovation Fund is to help researchers turn their innovations into companies that are positioned to succeed in their fundraising efforts.”

Spring 2022 finalists include:

  • medical flow // Flow Medical is a physician-founded company focused on data-driven interventions for pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis. Flow is developing the first catheter-directed thrombolytic device (CDT) designed specifically for acute pulmonary embolism procedures, with features that will optimize the safety and efficiency of this life-saving procedure.
    • Team Members: Jonathan Paul, Founder; Osman Ahmed, Founder; Kathleen McGing, Business Development Officer; Adelyn Gunawan, Business Development Intern
  • Lismikro // Lismikro develops innovative chip controllers to solve the hardware bottleneck and unlock the full potential of quantum computers. Its new low-power architecture is capable of scaling control electronics beyond the current 100 qubits for superconducting quantum processors, ion traps and photonics. Lismikro’s low-power microchip controllers enable quantum computers to solve the toughest computing challenges, from autonomous driving to discovering new drugs and chemicals.
    • Team Members: Shaorui Li, Founder; Hongzhi Sun, Senior Engineer; Benjamin Parpillon, senior engineer; Grégory Topel, advisor; Xiang Qiu, Business Development Officer; Rishi Chebrolu, Business Development Intern
  • Oleo sponge // Oleo Sponge delivers clean water with a clean conscience. Oleo Sponge effectively cleans oil spills without causing secondary problems. The solution allows for a reusable and sustainable approach to mitigating oil spill damage.
    • Team Members: Harrison Paul, Founder and CEO
  • OrisDX // OrisDX is a company about to launch a new molecular diagnostic test based on saliva to detect pre-cancers and cancers of the oral cavity. The science behind the test was developed over a decade of fundamental research by leaders in the field of liquid biopsy and cancer genomics, who are prominent physicians and scientists at the University of Chicago and Johns Hopkins University. OrisDX seeks to help alleviate the burden of cancer morbidity globally through improved access to non-invasive diagnostics and screening for early detection of head and neck cancers.
    • Team Members: CEO Nishant Agrawal, CEO; Jacob Stangl, CBO; Rifat Hasina, COO and secretary; Chetan Bettegowda, CMO; Evgeny Izumchenko, CSO

The primary mission of the Shultz Innovation Fund is to help researchers transform their innovations into companies that advance cutting-edge technologies, generate significant financial returns, and create lasting impact for humanity.

Teams receive guidance and dedicated support from the Polsky Center, business experts, an advisory board, and student associates from the Innovation Fund training in venture capital.

Over the past 11 years, the George Shultz Innovation Fund has invested $9.2 million in 90 companies which then raised $235 million in follow-on funding. Businesses launched with support from the fund include Surgical Explorer, corvidia, ClostraBioand Super Tech.

“Discussions with management and partners of the Innovation Fund helped us clarify our core strategy and business model. We also benefited from the training and support in creating a pitch deck, which will also help us in conversations with future investors,” said Pranav Gokhale, CEO and co-founder of Super.tech. Building on its success after securing $150,000 from the Innovation Fund in 2020, Super.tech went on to secure millions of dollars in federal research and was recently acquired by global quantum ecosystem leader, ColdQuanta. Major organizations, including Fortune 500 companies and national research labs, today rely on its software as part of their strategic quantum initiatives.

Spring 2021 Cohort Finalist, Esya Labs CEO and Co-Founder Dhivya Venkat said, “All University of Chicago startups should apply to go through the George Shultz Innovation Fund. It was such a beneficial experience. Esya Laboratories earlier this year announced that Novartis was among the first companies to use its technology.

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