22 Teams From Across Campus Explore Commercial Potential of New Ideas

The University of Chicago’s Polsky Center runs two cohorts of its I-Corps Program during the academic calendar year. Each cohort presents at the Collaboratorium, pictured here.

More than 20 teams participated in the Polsky Center I-Corps program this academic year – all with new research and ideas addressing challenges across various industries.

The goal of the eight-week program is to help scientists, researchers, and students test the commercial potential of their research and ideas.

Supported with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the Great Lakes Region I-Corps Hub, and run by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the program is designed for participants working on projects related to the STEM fields.

I-Corps provides participants with opportunities to expand their network and gain insight from industry stakeholders on the commercialization pathway, identify potential partners for future technical and business development, and receive individualized coaching.

Participants also work to access additional NSF funding, including a potential $50,000 through the National I-Corps program, prepare for SBIR/STTR or other commercialization grants, and engage with other programs at the Polsky Center.

Polsky Center I-Corps Teams Spring 2024:

C+UP // C+UP’s breakthrough carbon capture technology converts CO2 from industrial processes/storage into sustainable, carbon-negative eFuels and eChemicals using renewable electricity.

  • Team members: Hamed Heidari, unaffiliated with UChicago; Mohammad Asadi, assistant professor of chemical engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology; Abhi Ashok Parmar, student, Chicago Booth; Chris Kim, Student, Chicago Booth; Casey Tan, Student, Chicago Booth; Ben Garber, Student, Illinois Institute of Technology

CardiaSpike // The team is developing a functional cardiac tissue patch for surgical applications using 3D bioprinting and spheroid vascularization techniques.

  • Team members: Narutoshi Hibino, professor of surgery, Biological Sciences Division; Amatullah Mir, research coordinator, Biological Sciences Division; Amrish Soundararajan, student, Chicago Booth; Dongqing Tao, student, Chicago Booth

Diamond Stacks // Diamond Stacks seeks to manufacture diamond-integrated wafers for the semiconductor and quantum industries.

  • Team members: Xinghan Guo, student, Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering; Avery Linder, student, College

Exactics // Exactics has developed a patented, rapid, over-the-counter at-home immunoassay test for the presence of Lyme disease in a sample that shows results within minutes.

  • Team members: Julian Kage, student, College; Maxwell Almeida, student, College; Sean Greeby, student, College; Zachary Sarmoen, student, College

IdeaSync // IdeaSync aims to foster healthcare and biomedical innovation by developing a network to support and manage startups emanating from universities.

  • Team members: Felix Fernández-Penny, student, Pritzker School of Medicine; Quincy Camarillo-Guenther, student, Pritzker School of Medicine; Vivianna Camarillo-Guenther, student, Pritzker School of Medicine

Molecular Intelligence // The team is providing solutions for the physical modeling of molecular systems to industry partners based on modern AI technology.

  • Team members: Risi Kondor, associate professor, Physical Sciences Division; Vivek Bharathi Muruganandam, student, Chicago Booth; Ryan Wong, student, Physical Sciences Division

Pharos Aerospace // The team will deploy in-space surveillance satellite systems designated to escort satellite constellations and independent operators with optical imaging.

  • Team members: Ethan Ross, student, Social Sciences Division; Jacob Petersen, student, Chicago Booth; Victor Tyne, student, Physical Sciences Division

PI-CHAI // PI-CHAI provides AI-assisted prostate cancer diagnosis, combining computer vision with human-centered machine learning technology.

  • Team members: Chacha Chen, student, Physical Sciences Division; Jiamin Yang, research assistant, Physical Sciences Division; Han Liu, student, Biological Sciences Division

QubitConnect // The team has developed an interconnectable quantum processor that can form larger quantum systems, allowing for secure communication.

  • Team members: Shankar G Menon, student, Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering; Erik Wang, student, Chicago Booth; Ethan Chan, student, Chicago Booth

Slideflow Labs // Slideflow Labs’ technologies enable low-cost, local deployment of AI pathology biomarkers, addressing the high costs and accessibility barriers of current diagnostics and competing solutions.

  • Team members: James Dolezal, instructor of medicine, Biological Sciences Division; Sid Ramesh, student, Pritzker School of Medicine; Ra Yun Kim, student, Chicago Booth; Lucia Brunton-Dardaris, student, College

Ultra-hard Crystal Slicing // The team utilizes a controlled spalling technique to reuse and repurpose semiconductor substrates, enabling greater adoption of new and promising semiconductor materials systems to address the needs of modern electronics and information technology.

  • Team members: Connor Horn, student, Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering; Nitika Kurma, student, College; Junlin He, student, Chicago Booth


Polsky Center I-Corps Teams Fall 2023:

Aquora Biosystems // Aquora’s patented biomembrane filtration technology responds to the market need for low-cost and high throughput filtration of waste streams, spanning municipal wastewater to cow manure.

  • Team members: Tim Fairley-Wax, CRI researcher, Argonne National Laboratory; Jonathon O’Leary, student, Chicago Booth

Bocaliner // Bocaliner is an FDA-registered Class 1 medical device that is designed to enhance the efficacy of oral topical medications.

  • Team members: Eli Ehrenpreis, unaffiliated with UChicago; Ana Ehrenpreis, unaffiliated with UChicago; Grant Morrison, student, Chicago Booth; Dongqing Tao, student, Chicago Booth

Good Fibes // Good Fibes is a women-founded textile biotechnology startup providing next-gen protein-based, high-performance fibers to textile manufacturers.

  • Team members: Alexis Peña, CRI researcher, Argonne National Laboratory; Lauren Blake, CRI researcher, Argonne National Laboratory; Dia Atluri, student, College; Amina Helmy, student, College

Helix Earth Technologies // The team’s novel, patented filtration technology enables low-pressure-drop (< 100 Pa), high-rate CO2 capture using droplets of aerosolized liquid amines (< 30 µm). These filters make possible high-rate, compact CO2 capture.

  • Team members: Rawand Rasheed, CRI researcher, Argonne National Laboratory; Brad Husick, unaffiliated with UChicago

Improved biomarkers for TB // This project leverages Epigenetics as the layer of perturbations induced from the disease for a way to decipher and create diagnostics, which can lead to earlier diagnosis without disease symptoms in most vulnerable populations, such as people with HIV and other immunocompromised states.

  • Team members: Abhimanyu Abhimanyu, staff scientist, Biological Sciences Division; Judith Nguli, student, Harris School of Public Policy

Ingenii // Ingenii’s QML product is an end-to-end solution designed to revolutionize the drug discovery pipeline. It exploits the power of quantum computing and machine learning, facilitating quantum image pre-processing to refine data quality, and employing tensor networks to compress neural networks.

  • Team members: Christine Johnson, unaffiliated with UChicago; Laia Domingo, unaffiliated with UChicago; Tariq Shahzad, unaffiliated with UChicago; Tina Oberoi, student, Physical Sciences Division

Marinas Bio // Marinas Bio employs cellular agriculture to produce genuine seafood delicacies, which otherwise lack production efficiency, for the health of people and ecosystems.

  • Team members: Allan Leung, student, Chicago Booth; Sally Davis, unaffiliated with UChicago; Elizabeth Mojica, unaffiliated with UChicago; Yusu Wang, student, Chicago Booth

Rivalia Chemical // Rivalia harvests rare earth from ash and then transforms the residual ash for use in green concrete.

  • Team members: Laura Stoy, CRI researcher, Argonne National Laboratory

Valjuvant Vaccines // The team is using immunomodulators as secondary effectors to fine-tune the immune response. We have two goals for this: to reduce inflammation/negative side effects of vaccines, and to improve their durability and efficacy.

  • Team members: Aaron Esser-Kahn, Professor of Molecular Engineering, Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering; Jeremiah Kim, student, Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering; Irena Kaplan, student, Chicago Booth; Kara Scheer, student, Chicago Booth

Virtual Patient Simulator // This technology can help predict the response to drug and device treatment in the field of cardiology and heart failure. It can also be applied to drug delivery pumps and mechanical heart pumps to tailor therapy for a given patient.

  • Team members: Jonathan Grinstein, Associate Professor of Medicine, Biological Sciences Division; Mark Belkin, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Biological Sciences Division; Hector Garcia, unaffiliated with UChicago; Stephen Perez, alumnus, Chicago Booth; Zain Shaikh, student, Chicago Booth

X-Seed Plants // By using genome editing techniques, the team intends to engineer male sterile crops across diverse genetic backgrounds and varieties. The resultant male-sterile crops can then be directly employed for the production of commercially viable hybrid F1 seeds.

  • Team members: Deanna Arsala, post-doc, Biological Sciences Division; Shengqian Xia, post-doc, Biological Sciences Division; Jianhai Chen, post-doc, Biological Sciences Division; Raabia Budhwani, alumnus, Chicago Booth


Teams including faculty, students, staff, and alumni from the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, Fermilab, the Marine Biological Laboratory, and Chicago-area universities may apply for the program. No previous business or entrepreneurship experience is required.

Questions? Contact Ellen Zatkowski at ellen.zatkowski@chicagobooth.edu.

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