Oncology Startup Takes Home First Place at 2023 NVC as Judges Award $1.4M in Total Investment

Alnair Therapeutics wins $585,000 at the 27th Annual Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge on Thursday, June 1, 2023. (Photo by Anne Ryan.)


Alnair Therapeutics, a startup developing a platform technology to improve the delivery of drugs to difficult-to-treat cancers, has won first place in the 27th Annual Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge (NVC).

Alnair was awarded $585,000 in investment, including the $205,000 Rattan L. Khosa First-Place Prize, at the NVC, the signature venture competition for MBA students at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

The judges awarded $1.4 million in investment to the 10 teams competing in NVC finals Thursday. The event was held in person at Chicago Booth’s Harper Center and included Booth students, members of the public, mentors, advisors, faculty, staff, and investors.

Taking second place, with a total of $280,000 in investment, was reOrbital, a company working to create fiber optic core processed in space in a microgravity environment. Third place, and $315,000 went to EverLeather, a leather restoration company targeting luxury leather items such as handbags, shoes, accessories, and jackets.

“We were incredibly impressed with the range of teams we saw this year,” said Steven Kaplan, Neubauer Family Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Kessenich E.P. Faculty Director of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “It was another year during which the teams made amazing progress, and all the teams have bright futures ahead of them. We know they will do great things for the world.”

“The combination of students, process, phenomenal mentors, coaches, and judges continues to produce great results,” said Mark Tebbe, adjunct professor of entrepreneurship and Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Polsky Center .”One of the things we love best about this program is to see the progress that can be made with the combination of excellent students, good ideas, and a great community.”

The finalist teams represented a diverse set of startups. They presented their business plans to a judging panel made up of more than 25 investors, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders, many of them Booth alumni, who deliberated behind closed doors before announcing the winners.

Ryan Meyers, cofounder and CBO of Alnair explains some of the science behind their innovation. (Photo by Anne Ryan.)

“Alnair is thrilled to represent the University with this win. We feel like this is the perfect company to win this great honor, and we’ve really gone through everything to grow this company, from participating in the Compass accelerator and  I-Corps, and winning the George Shultz Innovation Fund before now competing in the NVC, it’s just been incredible,” said Ryan Meyers, MBA ’23, cofounder and CBO of Alnair Therapeutics. “Our team is unbelievable, but we really owe thanks to professors Mark Tebbe and Steve Kaplan and all the resources at the Polsky Center. We really wouldn’t be here without them.”


The winners of the 2023 NVC are: 


Alnair ($585,000) // Alnair is a preclinical stage, platform precision oncology company focused on new methods to treat difficult-to-treat cancers. It has developed a first-in-class drug delivery technology that leverages the unique features of cancer metabolism to enhance targeting and penetration of drugs directly to cancer cells,improving treatment outcomes for patients.

Alnair’s total investment of $585,000 includes the $205,000 Rattan L. Khosa First-Place Prize.

Read more from Alnair Therapeutics after they secured a $175,000 co-investment from the 2022 Fall cohort of the George Shultz Innovation Fund >>

reOrbital takes second place in the 2023 NVC. (Photo by Anne Ryan.)


reOrbital ($280,000) // reOrbital aims to create fiber optic core out of a class of glass called ZBLAN, a heavy metal fluoride which has performance characteristics an order of magnitude better than traditional cores. However, to reach these performance characteristics, ZBLAN must be processed in a microgravity environment. The proliferation of the launch vehicle market has dramatically reduced launch and downmass costs, making in-space manufacturing economically viable for the first time in history. These costs will continue to drop in the near future with the arrival of fully reusable launch vehicles.

reOrbital’s $280,000 investment was inclusive of the $25,000 Moonshot Award which is awarded to a team whose unique technologies are catalyzing innovative solutions to global challenges.


EverLeather ($315,000) // EverLeather aims to become the world’s leading restorer of luxury leather pieces by leveraging four generations of leather artisanship. EverLeather seeks to expand from Mexico into the U.S. via a digital-first strategy and to rethink the way in which leather is consumed. Currently, EverLeather’s restoration services involve the cleaning, maintenance, change of color, and remodeling of luxury leather items such as handbags, shoes, accessories, and jackets. 

EverLeather was also the recipient of the People’s Choice Award, a $5,000 cash prize voted on by the audience.


Marview ($85,000) // Marview is a SaaS company that aims to create the world’s highest-quality source of ocean data, taking the guesswork out of maritime decision making. Designed for ship crews and fleet operators, it offers new ways to see and respond to dynamic, uncertain conditions on the ocean surface.


FlashForward ($15,000) // FlashForward’s mission is to digitally transform the global supply chain. ItsAI-enabled digital platform will streamline the process of exporting material goods by eliminating paper and unifying disparate systems. In doing so, the company hopes to put an end to excessive fees and lost goods, save time, and create a sustainable supply chain.

SIXTH PLACE (tied)* // 

inclusive+ ($35,000) // inclusive+ works with healthcare organizations and payers to improve health outcomes for LGBTQ+ patients through customized provider training and an LGBTQ+ focused directory. 

Kadia Health ($10,000) // A digital health app that provides group therapy, therapeutic and educational content, and community connection for the individual family members of people with substance use disorder (SUD). Kadia leverages specialized, evidence-based techniques to improve the health and wellbeing of its users.

WattShift ($10,000) // WattShift’s software connects energy devices to electric grid incentive schemes to shift energy demand away from peak times. In the process, device manufacturers, homeowners, and WattShift earn hundreds of dollars per device per year for decreasing peak load instead of paying for fossil fuels to produce more power.

Zaars ($10,000) // Zaars is a marketplace for new and secondhand South Asian clothing that improves access to hard-to-find clothes, provides an e-commerce platform for sellers, and reduces environmental impact by increasing resale. The company provides a one-stop shop with detailed filters, community-specific features, quality listings, and educational resources.

Zelia ($45,000) // Zelia is an app that uses artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and generative AI to help users build outfits while providing brands with insights on consumer preferences.

The NVC was a pioneer of business school venture competitions when it held its first finals in 1997 with a $20,000 investment pool. It has since graduated more than 370 companies still in operation today, including nationally known brands such as Grubhub, Braintree/Venmo, Simple Mills, Tovala, and Foxtrot, that have gone on to raise more than $1 billion in funding and achieve more than $8.5 billion in exits.

Managed by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the competitive program spans the academic year at the Chicago Booth School of Business, starting in the fall when students form teams and then apply to be in the program. Of 65 applications received this year, 25 teams were selected to participate in the credit-bearing spring quarter course, where they took classes in entrepreneurship and received coaching to refine their pitches before finalists were selected to advance to the investment competition.

*After voting was concluded, additional investments were made, so dollar amounts are not indicative of placing.


// The Polsky Center also runs four additional tracks of the NVC. These serve distinct University of Chicago audiences, including alumni, undergraduates, executive MBA students, and social impact entrepreneurs. The winner announcements for those competitions can be found below:

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