Quantum, Laser Solutions Capture 2020 Innovation Fund Finals

(istock.com/Chinnapong)

The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago has announced the 2020 George Shultz Innovation Fund finalists.

The George Shultz Innovation Fund is a multi-million dollar venture-philanthropy fund supported by alumni donations. The fund – a perennial feature with 100% of returns reinvested – supports startups across the University of ChicagoArgonne National LaboratoryFermilab, and Marine Biological Laboratory ecosystem.

To ensure the health and safety of all participants, this year’s investment cycle will move forward in a fully remote format. All those involved have worked hard to ensure that the new format maintains the integrity of the traditional model. As part of this, the cycle will be limited to three participants to allow for more focused attention by fund management to the diligence and management teams.

The spring 2020 cohort finalists are:

Iris Light Technologies embeds hundreds of lasers directly onto silicon ‘light chips,’ enabling a 1000x increase in cloud data transmission at a fraction of today’s cost per bit. Whether Amazon shopping or Netflix streaming, all our data requires light chips inside data centers. Despite a $4 billion/year market growing at 44% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), standard light chips’ bandwidth capacity remains constrained by one laser per chip. Iris’s novel additive manufacturing method solves this problem with energy-efficient, multi-laser chips to meet the data demands of tomorrow. Team: Chad Husko (CEO/Founder), Ellie Price (Lead)

QDIR develops infrared detectors using quantum dot inks to address a cost-performance gap in infrared imaging capabilities. By leveraging solution processes for low-cost production of infrared detector arrays, QDIR enables product managers to meet the constraints of production cost and focus on designing new products for non-destructive evaluation, transportation, and surveillance. Team: Matthew Ackerman (Lead), Philippe Guyot-Sionnest (PI)

Super.tech is supercharging near-term quantum computers to solve commercially useful problems. The team is architecting a technology stack that makes software explicitly aware of the underlying quantum hardware. Their work enables useful speedups with dozens of bits, matching hardware expected in the next five years. Team: Pranav Gokhale (Lead), Fred Chong

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