Inaugural Deep Tech Ventures Showcase to Highlight 20 Startups, Keynote from Former Chicago Deputy Mayor Samir Mayekar

Former Chicago Deputy Mayor Samir Mayekar will keynote the inaugural Deep Tech Ventures Showcase

The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is excited to announce the inaugural Deep Tech Ventures Showcase – which will feature 20 startups across quantum, data science, cleantech, and life sciences.

The University of Chicago earlier this year unveiled Polsky Deep Tech Ventures, a new initiative offering a suite of sector-specific accelerators, entrepreneurial training, and funding dedicated to supporting startups that bring world-changing science and technology to market.

>> Register now for the Deep Tech Ventures Showcase

Now, the Deep Tech Ventures Showcase will see 20 startups that have participated in various accelerators, including Duality, and Transform, share a look into their work. The program also will feature an investor panel and keynote address from Former Chicago Deputy Mayor Samir Mayekar.

“There has never been a better time to be in deep tech, and Chicago is the place to do it.”

– Samir Mayekar

Ahead of the event, which will take place June 27th, we sat down with Mayekar, who also is the cofounder NanoGraf Corporation, for a few quick takes on the deep tech space from his unique perspective as a leader in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors – and as an innovator and entrepreneur himself.

As it pertains to the innovation space, what are some of the biggest trends you saw during your four years as the Chicago Deputy Mayor?

Samir Mayekar

A few key trends come to mind. First, due to the pandemic and other market forces, there has been a surge of investment in science-based companies.

Second, capital is more mobile than pre-pandemic with venture investors more likely to invest outside of the coasts.

Third, the overall ecosystem in Chicago has vastly improved for deep tech companies from lab space availability to public sector funding to more ecosystem partners – this is one of the key reasons why Chicago won the national competition for the $250 million Chan Zuckerberg biohub.

The biggest positive? Something that needs more focus?

The biggest positive is that the policy, funding, and real estate markets are shifting in the direction of deep tech. When I founded my company in 2011 I always felt we were swimming against the current, and today the current is very much in our favor.

In terms of what needs more focus, there needs to be more awareness that the time-to-market for deep tech companies is fundamentally longer than software companies – e.g. 10+ years, and typically no amount of funding or talent can change that timeline.

How has this informed your approach as a founder?

As a founder, I always maintained a focus on deep partnership with the public sector for non-dilutive funding and other support. Today, NanoGraf’s partnership with the Department of Defense has helped us secure eight figures of grant funding and a $65 million Series B of private investment.

How do you expect this space to continue evolving over the next four years?

Given the multiple transformative federal programs in place from the Biden Administration, such as the CHIPS Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, I expect many years of growth in deep tech investment as the country seeks to develop more supply chain resilience of the innovation pipeline.

What is your best piece of advice for founders? And the reason to invest in this space for investors?

I always remind founders that being an entrepreneur in the physical or life sciences requires discipline – making sure to keep capitalization levels in line with milestones and keeping R&D in line with customer expectations.

For investors, it’s important to stress that deep tech requires significant patience but the benefits in the long run can far surpass those from other sectors given the technology moat around deep tech businesses.

What keeps you up at night?

Our more complex world closes off certain markets for deep tech given geopolitical issues, so we need sufficient urgency domestically from investors, customers, and policymakers so companies don’t become trapped in a longer valley of death.

To hear more from Samir and connect with our Deep Tech Ventures startups, be sure to join us for the Deep Tech Ventures Showcase.

Questions about the Deep Tech Ventures Showcase? Email Ryan Brownlow at

// Polsky Deep Tech Ventures is a full-spectrum venture support organization dedicated to translating deep tech innovations into startups that bring life-saving, world-changing products and services to market. Leveraging a cross-campus collaborative mindset, Deep Tech Ventures supports innovators from pre-ideation to sales and marketing, and integrates Booth’s entrepreneurial training with a suite of domain-specific accelerators designed to highlight the University’s core competencies. In addition, a full spectrum of startup services, educational offerings, and various funding opportunities position each startup for success. Learn more >>

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