UChicago, Duality Teams to Pitch at 2021 Chicago Venture Summit

Chicago Venture Summit Deep Tech Showcase

Several teams from the University of Chicago and Duality – the world’s first accelerator focused exclusively on quantum technologies – pitched at the 2021 Chicago Venture Summit.

The venture capital conference took place September 27-29 and brought together leading venture capital investors and innovation ecosystem leaders with founders.

Kicking off the conference on Monday, September 27, the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and Argonne’s Chain Reaction Innovations program hosted the 2021 Deep Tech Showcase as part of the larger event.

“The Chicago Venture Summit has evolved to one of the Midwest region’s largest VC events and a must-attend event for national investors,” said Abin Kuriakose, executive vice president of innovation and venture strategy for World Business Chicago – the City of Chicago’s economic development organization chaired by the Mayor, and the organizers of the Chicago Venture Summit. “We couldn’t be more proud to showcase our city’s most promising founders, many of them from the UChicago, Duality, and CRI ecosystems.”

UChicago and Duality teams pitching included:

// AddGraft Therapeutics is developing a CRISPR-based therapeutic technology using skin cells to treat addiction. The researchers have developed a therapeutic platform that, through a one-time and first-of-its-kind treatment, will effectively cure someone of alcohol use disorder (AUD). The treatment is long-lasting, highly effective, and minimally invasive.

This is completed by using skin epidermal progenitor cells to deliver one or more therapeutic agents. First, the researchers harvest skin stem cells from an AUD patient and genetically modify them using a precise molecular scissor CRISPR. This process will introduce genes that can produce molecules that will significantly reduce the motivation to take or seek alcohol. Then, they re-implant these skin cells into the original host through a skin graft. After the graft has been re-implanted, the skin graft is able to produce these molecules as a bio engine throughout the lifetime of the graft.

Team members:

  • Ryan Meyers, MBA ’22, cofounder and CEO
  • Xiaoyang Wu, cofounder and chief technology officer, associate professor, Biological Sciences Division, University of Chicago
  • Ming Xu, cofounder and chief scientific officer, professor of anesthesia and critical care, Biological Sciences Division, University of Chicago

// Arrow Immune is developing next-generation biologics for immuno-oncology in solid tumors. The company is developing protein engineering technology to retain IO molecules in the tumor microenvironment, both to function as monotherapies and to enhance response to checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy.

The company has developed a powerful approach to mask these compounds such that they are inactive in the periphery yet are activated within the tumor, to limit immune-related adverse events and open the therapeutic window.

Team members:

  • Jeffrey Hubbell, cofounder, Eugene Bell Professor in Tissue Engineering and Deputy Dean for Development, University of Chicago
  • Jun Ishihara, cofounder, lecturer, Imperial College London
  • Aslan Mansurov, cofounder, postdoctoral scholar, University of Chicago
  • Melody Swartz, cofounder, William B Ogden Professor in Molecular Engineering, University of Chicago

// Axion Technologies is a Tallahassee, FL-based company, developing a quantum random number generator for high-performance computing systems. Its design enables embedding of unique digital signatures for hardware authentication. The company has received a NSF SBIR award.

Team members:

  • Carol Scarlett, founder, assistant professor of physics at Florida A&M University

// Esya Labs’ mission is the early, precise, and cost-effective detection of neurodegenerative diseases. Its first-in-class product for Alzheimer’s Disease will provide a 360-degree perspective enabling early diagnosis, a personalized treatment plan based on ranked drug effectiveness for any given patient, and monitoring disease progression.

The platform uses synthetic DNA strands that have been engineered to function in a specific way. These so-called “DNA nanodevices” are used to measure lysosomes’ performance by creating chemical maps of their activity – a process that had previously not been possible. The company in

Team members:

// Nanopattern Technologies is commercializing a quantum dot ink that enables the manufacturing of the next generation of energy-efficient, bright, and fast refresh rate displays – and recently received a $1 million NSF SBIR grant.

In addition to displays, NanoPattern’s patented technology is capable of patterning oxide nanoparticles for optics applications and Near Infrared (NIR) quantum dots for multispectral sensor applications.

Team members:

  • Yu Kambe, PhD ’19, cofounder and CEO
  • Dmitri Talapin, cofounder, Ernest DeWitt Burton Distinguished Service Professor in the Chemistry Department

// qBraid is developing a cloud-based platform for managed access to other quantum computing software and hardware. The platform includes qBraid Learn and qBraid Lab. qBraid Learn is ready to host any courses developed by the quantum computing ecosystem, but the team has also developed their own educational content. qBraid provides a streamlined experience for first-time learners through its QuBes (quantum beginners) course. Hosted on the qBraid-learn platform, QuBes brings students up to speed on all the background knowledge (mathematics, coding, and physics) necessary to then introduce quantum computing.

qBraid-Lab provides a cloud-based integrated development environment (IDE) for quantum software developers. Unlike other in-browser development platforms, qBraid’s ecosystem specifically optimizes for quantum computing by providing development environments with all common quantum computing packages pre-installed.

The platform is being used by more than 2500 users from top universities, financial institutions, and various national labs. qBraid has also announced recent collaborations with various government agencies (Quantum Algorithms Institute in British Columbia, the Chicago Quantum Exchange, and the QuSteam) in the US and Canada.

Team members:

// Quantopticon, based in the UK, develops software for simulating quantum-photonic devices. The software has applications chiefly in the budding fields of quantum computing and ultra-secure quantum communications.

Quantopticon specializes in modelling quantum systems of the solid-state type, which are commonly embedded in cavity structures in order to control and enhance specific optical transitions. Its software for modelling interactions of light with matter is underpinned by an original and proprietary general methodology developed by the team from first principles.

The purpose of their software is ultimately to save quantum-optical designers time and money, by eliminating the need to carry out repeated experiments to test and optimize physical prototypes.

Team members:

// Super.tech is developing software that accelerates quantum computing applications by optimizing across the system stack from algorithms to control pulses. The company in August announced the launch of a software platform endeavoring to make quantum computing commercially viable years sooner than otherwise possible.

The platform, called SuperstaQ, connects applications to quantum computers from IBM Quantum, IonQ, and Rigetti, and optimizes software across the system stack to boost the performance of the underlying quantum computers.

Team members:

  • Fred Chong, cofounder and chief scientist, Seymour Goodman Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Chicago
  • Pranav Gokhale, PhD ’20, cofounder and CEO


Of the teams presenting, Axion, qBraid, Quantopticon, and Super.tech were selected from a competitive pool of applicants from all over the globe and vetted by an internal review process to participate in Cohort 1 of Duality.

Launched in April 2021, Duality is the first-of-its-kind accelerator aimed at supporting next-generation startups focused on quantum science and technology. The 12-month program provides world-class business and entrepreneurship training from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Polsky Center, and the opportunity to engage the networks, facilities, and programming from the Chicago Quantum Exchange, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Argonne National Laboratory, and P33.

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