Innovation Fund Invests $500,000 in Health and Energy Companies

The University of Chicago Innovation Fund announced plans to invest up to $500,000 into two companies—Cephalgia Therapeutics and RWEDI water—that are working to combat migraines and increase water efficiency, respectively. These latest investments bring the Innovation Fund’s total investment amount to nearly $5.1 million in 62 ventures.

On Friday, December 2, five finalists presented their ventures to the Innovation Fund advisory committee, as well as to a standing-room only audience at the Polsky Exchange. Over 250 students, faculty, alumni, and members of the entrepreneurial and investing community heard from companies that are working in the fields of energy efficiency, water conservation, medical imaging, and migraine therapy.

“The Innovation Fund enables entrepreneurs to transform discoveries into tangible products and services that have an impact on people’s lives,” said John Flavin, Associate Vice President for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago. “Our investments this fall will help these ventures establish a clear path to market for their inventive ideas addressing important biomedical and energy related challenges.”

The Innovation Fund, which is managed by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, invests in promising technologies and startups created by current faculty, students, and staff of the University and its affiliates, including Argonne National Laboratory, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and the Marine Biological Laboratory. Fund applicants receive expert feedback from a committee of industry experts, both internal and external to the University of Chicago – distinguished angel and venture capital investors, scientists, and entrepreneurs – to help them move their projects forward and create lasting impact.

The following teams will be receiving investments this year:

Cephalgia Therapeutics will be awarded up to $250,000 to support the development of the team’s migraine treatment formula. Cephalgia Therapeutics’ objective is to develop Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in a nasal spray formulation for treating migraine headache patients through conducting proof-of-concept clinical trials for IGF-1 in the prevention of migraines in chronic patients; as a prophylactic therapy; and to acutely stop progression of migraines across the full population of migraine sufferers, as an abortive therapy. The team is affiliated through the University of Chicago Medical Center and is comprised of Dr. Yuan Zhang, Dr. Richard Kraig, and Dr. Martin Sanders.

RWEDI Water will be awarded up to $250,000 for their water separations technology. The RWEDI-water system is a highly energy efficient, low cost separations technology that uses electricity to remove ions that cause scaling and corrosion from the cooling tower make-up water supply. The system can be utilized with both freshwater and alternative water sources such as reclaimed water. RWEDI-water reduces operating costs of the cooling tower system by decreasing make-up water requirements, decreasing chemical use, and reducing maintenance costs. The team is affiliated through Argonne National Laboratory and is comprised of Jessica Linville, Seth Snyder, and YuPo Lin.

Additionally, the Innovation Fund Fall Finals began with an announcement from University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer regarding the new UChicago Startup Investment Program—$25 million in investment capital designated from the University’s endowment to be invested alongside established venture funds in startups led by faculty, students, staff, and alumni. Read more on the announcement here

*The UChicago Innovation Fund was renamed the George Shultz Innovation Fund in recognition of the honorable George P. Shultz.

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