‘Corporate Collision’ Sparks New Connections and Industry Collaboration

Corporate Collision featured a panel discussion followed by a networking reception and opportunities to meet with startups. Speakers included (from left to right) Matthew Marrone, Colleen Wright, Kanav Setia, and Wayne Bradley.

The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation last week brought together industry leaders to discover, connect, and collaborate with some of the nation’s top startups.

“The Polsky Center has a very long track record of innovation,” said Samir Mayekar, associate vice president and managing director of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, kicking off the Deep Tech Ventures Corporate Collision event. “We are the engine of innovation and entrepreneurship – and Deep Tech Ventures is really all about translation.”

The event, sponsored by McAndrews, Held & Malloy, featured startups participating in the Polsky Center’s various accelerators. These programs – Resurgence, Transform, and Duality – address clean energy, data science and AI, and quantum, respectively.

Polsky Deep Tech Ventures, drawing on the University of Chicago’s leading research in the sciences, its robust national laboratory affiliations, and partnership with the top-ranked Booth School of Business, provides this sector-specific expertise to help startups from around the globe reduce technical and market risk as they position their innovations for real-world impact.

>> Register today for the Deep Tech Ventures Summit on June 18, 2024

“We are building an ecosystem at the University of Chicago and having partners is really what makes the engine run,” said Dan Sachs, executive director of Polsky Deep Tech Ventures. This includes partnership between the startups participating in the accelerator programs and corporations across various industries.

In line with this, the event featured both presentations from 15 corporate partners sharing their innovation needs and challenges, and pitches from the 16 startups across the Deep Tech Ventures portfolio.

A panel discussion moderated by Matthew Marrone, an IP attorney at McAndrews, Held & Malloy, also examined how to create equitable structures that incentivize collaboration between corporations and startups for sustained innovation.

Leading off the conversation, Marrone stressed the importance of having strong IP, noting that sharing too much without that security can be problematic down the road.

As for what it looks for in a partner, Constellation VP of Corporate Strategy Colleen Wright said “it’s all about the intersection of values – find the intersection of your goals and the company you are trying to align with.” The energy company works with startups in a variety of ways from making direct investments to partnering on pilot projects.

From the startup perspective, Kanav Setia, CEO of qBraid, advised other founders in the audience to think about what a potential partner is getting out of any specific relationship: “Once you start asking those questions it will become easier to propose [a partnership].”

A participant in the inaugural cohort of Duality, Setia specifically commented on the value of networking as part of the ecosystem accelerator participation offers.

“Duality was one of the first accelerators in the world focused entirely on quantum technologies. And that matters a whole lot,” said Setia. “Why? Because it means any VC who is looking at the quantum industry, they find Duality and they find us.”

Setia also pointed out the value of events these networks provide. “You can come here and talk to many people,” he said of attending Corporate Collision. “Keep building these conversations and relationships. “Eventually all of those things that you didn’t realize you were doing are going to turn into an exponential [return].”

From his vantage as a patent attorney at McAndrews, Held & Malloy, Wayne Bradley noted that partnerships involve a lot of contracts. “You want to protect yourself from worst-case scenarios – and prepare for best-case scenario,” he said.

“You want to find if there are roadblocks that are going to keep you from talking to somebody else,” Bradley explained as one example. “It’s both looking at what could be thrown at you and also making sure success can be there in both [qualitative and quantitative] sense.”

This site uses cookies and other tracking technologies to assist with navigation and your ability to provide feedback, analyze your use of products and services, assist with our promotional and marketing efforts.