8 Polsky-Affiliated Startups Named to Chicago Inno’s ‘Chicago Startups to Watch’ List

The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago applies world-class expertise from the Chicago Booth School of Business to bring new ideas and breakthrough research to market.

Eight startups with roots in the Polsky Center or the University of Chicago have been included in an annual list featuring the top Chicago startups to watch for the year.

Now in its 10th year, Chicago Inno’s annual “Startups to Watch” list recognizes the early-stage startups that are best poised for growth in the year. The 2024 list features 24 Chicago startups that are ready to make a big impact in Chicago’s tech scene.

“We are thrilled to be recognized among Chicago Inno’s esteemed 2024 Startups to Watch cohort,” said John Sexton Abrams, founder and CEO of Nutrad. “Our journey, fueled by innovation and driven by passion, has been further propelled by our transformative experience at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center.”

“This acknowledgment not only validates our efforts but also underscores the thriving ecosystem of entrepreneurial excellence fostered by Polsky,” Abrams continued. “It’s a tremendous honor to stand alongside other ventures from the center on this prestigious list, and we’re excited for the journey ahead as we continue to pioneer in our field.”

The Polsky Center, the hub for entrepreneurial activity at Chicago Booth and across the University of Chicago, is proud to be associated with eight of the startups featured in the list.

“I am honored to see several Polsky-affiliated companies listed, particularly Echo Labs and Nutrad, both of which went through cohort 2 of our Transform data science and AI accelerator,” said Shyama Majumdar, director of data science accelerators at the Polsky Center. “I am also thrilled to see Alnair Therapeutics and Flow Medical on the list, who are alums of our Compass deep tech accelerator. It is a matter of pride to see our accelerators adding value to early-stage companies in a variety of different domain areas.”

Startups listed:

// Alnair Therapeutics

Alnair Therapeutics is an oncology startup focused on developing a platform to better deliver drugs to hard-to-treat cancers. The genesis of the company lies in research conducted by Xiaoyang Wu, associate professor of cancer research and stem cell biology at the University of Chicago. Wu cofounded Alnair with Anh Ngyuen, MBA ’11, and Ryan Meyers, MBA ’23. The team won the 2023 NVC pitch competition and received the 2022 George Schultz Innovation Fund fall cohort award.

// BiomeSense

BiomeSense is developing a fully automated biosensor for low-cost, scalable microbiome testing. The device solves the cost and patient adherence problems with current testing methods, making longitudinal sampling routine. BiomeSense is based on research from Jack Gilbert, a professor in the department of surgery at the University of Chicago Medicine and the faculty director of the University’s Microbiome Center, and Savas Tay, professor at the UChicago Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering. The team also includes Kevin Honaker, a recent graduate of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. The company was awarded up to $250,000 at the Spring 2018 George Shultz Innovation Fund Finals.

// Celadyne Technologies Inc.

Founded in 2019, Celadyne Technologies is accelerating industrial decarbonization with durable fuel cells and cheap green hydrogen. The team was a part of the Polsky Center’s 2018-2019 I-Corps, a program which empowers UChicago scientists, researchers, and students to test the commercial potential of their research and ideas.

// Echo Labs

Echo Labs is building the first AI capable of human-level transcription that is better than any product existing in the space today. Its model, Casper, is built on a biologically enhanced neural network – which means it understands conversations just as humans do. Earlier this year, the company announced the highest pre-seed funding round in Chicago startup history at $7.4 million. Echo Labs is part of the second cohort of the Transform accelerator for data science and AI startups.

// Eventnoire

Eventnoire is an event management platform geared toward Black culture. The company offers revenue-sharing on processing fees with event hosts, unlike mainstream ticketing platforms that keep this revenue for themselves The company was part of the Polsky Exchange’s Small Business Growth Program.

// Flow Medical

Flow Medical is developing a novel thrombolytic catheter to treat pulmonary embolism. The startup was a part of the Polsky Center’s I-Corps program, the Compass deep tech accelerator, and the George Shultz Innovation Fund, where it was awarded a $200,000 co-investment to further develop the technology. The company was founded by University of Chicago researchers Jonathan Paul and Osman Ahmed, and recently brought in Jennifer Fried, MBA ’15, as cofounder and CEO.

// Liv Labs

Founded in 2017, Liv Labs is creating a reusable pessary designed for women’s comfort and that consumers can buy directly, without having to go through a doctor. Liv Labs was part of the Polsky Incubator, a program that offered entrepreneurs from the community resources such as mentorship, coworking space, and legal help from UChicago Law School’s Innovation Clinic.

// Nutrad

Nutrad removes friction and complexity from the supply chain through using AI to match disparate data between manufacturers and retailers to help ensure smooth, more efficient cooperation. It is part of the second cohort of the Transform Accelerator for data science and AI startups.

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