Four Startups Advance to Spring 2023 George Shultz Innovation Fund Finals

The George Shultz Innovation Fund Finals will feature the startups that are finalists for investment from the Fund. The morning program will consist of pitches from the finalists and the afternoon program will be a closed-door session for the diligence presentations by the Innovation Fund Associates.

Four startups innovating in the life sciences, energy, healthcare IT, and medical device spaces will each vie for up to $250,000 in co-investment as finalists in the Spring 2023 cohort of the George Shultz Innovation Fund.

To date, the George Shultz Innovation Fund has invested more than $9 million in over 90 companies that have gone on to raise upwards of $410 million. Companies launched with the fund’s support include Onchilles PharmaExplORer SurgicalClostraBioEsya Labs, and Super.Tech.

>> Register to attend Wednesday, May 31

During the process, teams received guidance and dedicated support from the Polsky Center, business experts, an advisory committee, and student Innovation Fund Associates who are training in venture capitalism.

The 2023 Spring finalists are:

// PersonaDx has discovered the first biomarker for identifying patients with potentially curative metastasis in individuals with liver metastasis from colorectal cancer. The PersonaDx mission is to apply its patented computational artificial intelligence methods to all solid human tumors thereby completely revolutionizing the predictive and therapeutic landscape in cancer therapy.

The testing platform benefits are three-fold: identification of patients who are potentially curable with ablative interventions; delineation of which patients benefit from immediate chemotherapy and can be spared a dangerous surgery; and discovery of potential therapeutic targets to treat adverse risk patients.

The startup has validated its findings in patients treated in a randomized clinical trial and published the results in major medical journals. The testing platform will launch in 2023.


  • Kevin Donnelly, CEO
  • Sean Pitroda, CMO, assistant professor of radiation and cellular oncology, UChicago
  • Ralph Weichselbaum, CSO, Daniel K. Ludwig Distinguished Service Professor of Radiation and Cellular Oncology, Chair, Department of Radiation and Cellular Oncology, UChicago


// Blackcurrant is a groundbreaking startup addressing the hydrogen market’s challenges, including limited price visibility, time-consuming contracts, unmet hydrogen demand, inadequate buyer adoption tools, and fragmented demand visibility for producers. Its smart marketplace streamlines hydrogen transactions, reducing costs and time for all parties involved.

The unique platform brings hydrogen producers, transporters, and buyers together, offering a price and volume discovery tool that provides accurate market pricing and introduces the world’s first hydrogen index. This increased transparency enables well-informed decision-making and enhances market efficiency.

Blackcurrant’s platform also incorporates payment processing and a transportation portal, reducing the burden on procurement teams for buyers and sales and business development teams for sellers. This integrated approach significantly shortens contract negotiation and logistics coordination time. A standout feature of our platform is the publication of carbon intensity for each trade, allowing customers to capitalize on the $3 per kg credit from the Inflation Reduction Act for trading green hydrogen.


  • Akshay Thakur, MBA ’24, CEO
  • Yaroslav Kharkov, CTO
  • Oleg Ryzhkov, MBA ’12, COO


// Decimal Code helps healthcare providers capture underbilled revenue through their patented machine learning and natural language processing algorithm that automates automated CPT coding.

Using a natural language processing machine learning algorithm, Decimal Code reads operative notes to determine the correct procedural billing codes. The core technology is built on over 15 million procedural cases spanning 50 hospital systems. Decimal Code is currently focused on CPT coding for prior authorizations, surgery, and anesthesiology.


  • Joey Panella, MBA ’24, CEO
  • Michael Burns, CMO
  • John Vandervest, CTO


// NovaXS Biotech is a medical device startup developing a smart needle-free drug delivery platform that helps patients optimize the medication self-administration process and improve medication adherence.

Over 40% of patients are not adherent to their chronic disease treatment, especially for injectable drugs due to fear of needles, negative side effects, high administration errors, and poor management. Backed by Baxter, Techstars, and institutional VCs, NovaXS Biotech is disrupting the drug delivery industry and providing patients with a better tool to manage their daily injectables.

Our patent-pending smart needle-free drug delivery platform allows patients to self-administer medications subcutaneously or intramuscularly without a needle and tracks long-term treatment progress.


  • Alina Su, CEO
  • Jonathan Xing, MBA ’23, COO
  • Alex Zou, CTO


About the George Shultz Innovation Fund

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 tech ventures coming out of the University of ChicagoArgonne National LaboratoryFermilab, and the Marine Biological Laboratory. Learn more here. 

>> In Memoriam: George Pratt Shultz, 1920–2021

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