Deep Tech Ventures Showcase

Deep Tech Ventures Showcase

Keynote Speaker

Samir Mayekar

Samir Mayekar

Associate Vice President and Managing Director of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

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Samir Mayekar

Associate Vice President and Managing Director of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Samir is an accomplished leader with a track record of driving innovation and impact across the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors. Most recently, he was deputy mayor for the city of Chicago, where he focused on economic and neighborhood development. He was a driving force behind initiatives such as INVEST South/West, the city’s signature community development initiative that marshaled resources from across city departments, community organizations, and corporate and philanthropic partners to support commercial corridors across several South and West Side neighborhoods. Before that, he served in the U.S. government during the Obama Administration, where he was part of the White House’s national security team and on the executive staff at the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation.

Samir also co-founded and served as CEO of NanoGraf Corporation, a global manufacturer of advanced materials for the lithium-ion battery industry that has raised over $100 million in funding and was spun out of Argonne National Laboratory and Northwestern University. He holds a B.A. and M.B.A. from Northwestern, where he served as a trustee, and he is active in the Chicago civic community, serving on the boards of the Metropolitan Pier and Exhibition Authority, Lyric Opera, and other organizations. He is also a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and is an alumnus of the Marshall Memorial Fellowship and the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans.

As head of the Polsky Center, Samir plays a pivotal role in advancing the University’s innovation, technology commercialization, entrepreneurship, and partnership priorities. He fosters connections across the University, our city, region, and world that enable the Polsky Center to accelerate the commercialization of critical technologies to help solve some of society’s most urgent challenges. He also elevates efforts to help drive economic development on the South Side and strengthen partnerships that bolster the university’s and Chicago’s upward trajectory as hubs of world-class innovation.

Panelists

Erik G. Birkerts

Erik G. Birkerts

Chief Executive Officer, Evergreen Climate Innovations

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Erik G. Birkerts

Chief Executive Officer, Evergreen Climate Innovations

Erik is the Chief Executive Officer of Evergreen Climate Innovations. He has over 25 years of operating, management and investment experience in the climate tech sector and is a skilled corporate Director. Prior to leading Evergreen, Erik served on the senior management teams for two successful IPOs of venture capital backed companies. In addition to serving as CEO, Erik serves as a corporate Director for a range of companies in the energy space, from established, multigenerational businesses to early stage, rapidly growing businesses. Erik has an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He earned his BA with honors in Economics and International Relations from Tufts University.

Jamie Kasuboski

Jamie Kasuboski

Vice President, OMX Ventures

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Jamie Kasuboski

Vice President, OMX Ventures

Jamie is a Vice President with OMX Ventures. Prior to OMX Jamie developed deep experience in early-stage Biotech investing and company creation while working on the investment team at RA Capital.  In that role he served on the board of Enara Bio, Avilar Therapeutics, and Endor Therapeutics. Before joining RA, he was a Director at Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund and served as a Board Director of both Tilos Therapeutics (acquired by Merck & Co.) and Rewind Therapeutics. He holds a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from Hillsdale College and a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Notre Dame.

Nii Dodoo-Amoo

Nii Dodoo-Amoo

Investor, Osage University Partners

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Nii Dodoo-Amoo

Investor, Osage University Partners

Nii is a tech investor at OUP and is passionate about investing in physical sciences and deep tech sectors. He has a wealth of experience in the semiconductor industry, having worked with Intel, Samsung, and TSMC among others. He also spent several years investing in startups in emerging markets. He holds a PhD in condensed matter physics from the University of Leeds and an MBA from The Wharton School and the Rotterdam School of Management. Nii is a former academic and was a post-doctoral fellow in Physics at the University of Cambridge.

Nancy Sullivan

Nancy Sullivan

CEO and Managing Director, Illinois Ventures

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Nancy Sullivan

CEO and Managing Director, Illinois Ventures

 

Nancy joined Illinois Ventures as CEO and Managing Director in 2013. Under her leadership, Illinois Ventures has invested in over 30 life science and technology ventures including Sfunga Therapeutics, Cystetic medicines, Actuate, Photonicare, Keywise AI, Psyonic, and Revolution Medicines (RVMD) which entered the public market in 2020. Nancy spent her early career in startup formation and technology commercialization with a focus on business development and deal generation. She is a graduate of Northwestern University where she earned an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, as well as a MS in Biotechnology. She earned her BA from Loyola University.

Companies Presenting

Startup and Company Pitches | Morning Session 

Moderators: 

  • Ezunial Burts – Director, Duality
  • Steve Gould – Consulting Director, Ventures

Quantum/Data Science Startups: 

  • SCALINQ – Swedish company SCALINQ is offering universities, research institutes, and commercial players a highly adaptable sample holder (LINQER) to host their quantum devices regardless of the number of qubits or the size of the chip. The company’s first product, LINQER, enables up to 300 microwave-based connectors with high fidelity. The team hopes this novel capability will revolutionize quantum computation development across the board. Using an experimentally tested design, SCALINQ produces high-density packaging that can maintain quantum samples at stable conditions. Armed with reliable packaging technology, experimentalists can concentrate on central projects and generate results more efficiently. According to CEO, Zaid Saeed, the technology can be easily adapted to a variety of laboratory setups. Long-term, SCALINQ aspires to be a leading player in quantum packaging development and set industry standards through expanded product offerings. By doing so, Saeed hopes to accelerate quantum innovation in a meaningful way.
  • Notoros – Brick, who studied electrical and computer engineering, and co-founder and CEO Brendan Laiben, an aerospace and mechanical engineer, met while working as contractors, building on a variety of blockchains. Brick and Laiben’s Notoros platform combines concepts from mainframe computing, internet communication protocols, and cryptography to provide a robust, flexible, and computationally efficient transaction format for distributed ledger networks. Notoros allows public and private applications to operate alongside one another in the same ledger context without compromising security. Generalized for any use-case, the technology gives solution architects the freedom to write interoperable applications in any programming language. This means companies can use Notoros with their existing technology stack. The platform also provides a complete set of tools that developers can use to quickly develop Zero Trust applications with minimal operational costs.
  • Icosa Computing – Icosa Computing uses quantum computing and physics-based algorithms to develop software for difficult optimization problems, including applications in the financial sector such as portfolio development, currency arbitrage, and index tracking. This concept developed out of founder and CEO Mert Esencan’s personal interest in annealing technology. Icosa Computing also draws on the expertise of CTO David Fellah, an industry leader in finance with years of experience in trading algorithm research. Instead of focusing on experimental quantum applications, Icosa Computing uses accessible methods that are compatible with current technology. The ability to adapt with scientific innovation is at the heart of Icosa Computing’s business model. Looking forward, Esencan expects to utilize truly quantum methods when they offer a practical advantage. As a result, the team prioritizes understanding the state-of-the-art in quantum research and maintaining a flexible, solution-oriented mindset.
  • Drip – Drip is working to solve chronic dehydration in athletes with its unique sweat-sensing wearable device. Karishma Bali is founder and CEO of Drip, a sports tech company building products that help athletes achieve peak performance. She partnered with Chelsea Monty-Bromer, founder of hydration sensor startup SweatID, to produce a line of athletic apparel. Bali met Monty-Bromer serendipitously and currently sits on the advisory board of her company. The clothing line embeds the sensor – about the size of a dishwasher tablet – where sweat concentrates most: the back center band of shorts, joggers, and workout pants for men and women, as well as the back and front center of women’s sports bras. The sensor pairs with an app where athletes input preliminary biometric information such as height, weight, age, body type, and blood type. Before a workout, athletes set a timer to indicate length of workout. The sensor becomes activated by sweat, sending continuous, real-time information on sodium level and sweat rate to the user’s phone or other Bluetooth-enabled device until the end of the workout. Athletes then use this data to design a personalized hydration strategy.
  • memQ – memQ, a spinout from the University of Chicago, is developing quantum repeaters that can distribute photonic qubits across the existing C-band telecom infrastructure. Spearheaded by recent Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) graduate Manish Kumar Singh, memQ draws from the collective expertise of Argonne National Laboratory researcher Sean Sullivan and PME professor Supratik Guha. By utilizing this same infrastructure that is used for data transfer today, their quantum technology aims to enhance the security of the network. Additionally, it will enable the distribution of quantum information across the network – facilitating the connection of quantum computers and sensors. Their technology uses rare earth atoms as qubits. By introducing the ability to capture and store quantum states, memQ can create new markets.

Life Sciences/CleanTech Startups: 

  • CellCipher – CellCipher has developed a practical, ethical, and efficient system that can be used to characterize disease loci and measure how both developing and mature cells respond to environmental exposures. Embryoid bodies (EBs) are spontaneously differentiating stem cell organoids comprised of dozens of developing cell types from all three germ layers. Using single-cell sequencing, we can disentangle these complex organoids and use them to study gene regulatory dynamics in multiple individuals, cell types, developmental stages, and environmental contexts. By understanding how lifestyle and the environment interact with the genetic background to produce variation in gene expression levels, we can improve our ability to treat diseases.
  • Claudyn Biotech – Claudyn Biotech is developing a novel class of drugs to block claudin channels. These blockers may be useful in the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Existing therapies focus mainly on limiting inflammation or reducing intestinal motility and are only partially effective. Some of these drugs are also associated with poor side effect profiles. Thus, there is need for new therapies.
  • ECENS (Electrical Sense. Environment Sense. Energy Sense) Argonne National Laboratory – Our technology, developed and patented at Argonne National Laboratory is designed to speed up the charging of Li-ion battery devices, thus slowing the necessary time to wait for a full charge. Our method supplements normal charging of battery devices by applying stimulating light to the electrodes under LED light irradiation during charging. This speeds up their ability to charge without the drawback of shortening their lifetime.
  • Kompass Bio – Our team is building an at-home blood testing device coupled to virtual care platforms to provide convenient access to chronic condition management. Our device consists of 2 parts: a cartridge component which detects a specific biomarker in a finger-prick blood sample, and a reader component which analyzes the signal produced from the detection. Patients can conduct the test themselves, guided by an instructional video, and obtain results on the spot in 5 minutes. The panels of tests we are launching over the next 5 years include lipid panel for hyperlipidemic patients on statin medication, diabetes panel for screening, thyroid panel for patients on thyroxine medication, and fertility panel for ovulation prediction and counting ovarian reserves. These tests require frequent testing ranging from 2 to 12 tests/year.

Startup and Company Pitches | Afternoon Session 

Moderators: 

  • Anna Wislocki – Assistant Director, Sciences
  • Ellen Zatkowski – Senior Associate Director, Science Programs and Student Engagement 

Quantum/Data Science Startups: 

  • WikiSick – WikiSick is the first integrated health management platform that helps people successfully solve their everyday health concerns. WikiSick combines three key elements of health management: (1) A unique symptom navigation system that matches user queries with a robust dataset of curated solutions and outcomes based on the experience of others in the WikiSick community. WikiSick enables informed choices, personalized results, and actionable direction. (2) Expert and customized content to educate and inform users on common health concerns as well as healthcare management issues like insurance coverage; and (3) Referral resources that connect users to curated options for care delivery, goods, and services.
  • Quantescence – Quantescence is developing an online emulator that will be a powerful modeling tool for researchers and developers looking to approximate large quantum circuits with low entanglement. Founded in 2019 as a software development company, French startup QuantFi specializes in applying quantum algorithms to finance. Quantescence, the new American branch of QuantFi, is repurposing the same technology to provide broader quantum computation solutions. The expanded team is working to convert the emulator behind QuantFi’s financial services into a commercially accessible product. Founder and CEO Kevin Callaghan describes the software as “a general-purpose tool” that can be used for quantum emulation across a range of fields beyond finance. Once the emulator is online and functional, the team hopes Quantescence’s emulator will become a space for researchers and industry workers alike to explore quantum technology.
  • Blackcurrant – Blackcurrant Inc. is a hydrogen trading marketplace. Blackcurrant is solving the problem of access to sustainable fuels. Focused on hydrogen commodities, they provide transparency in hydrogen markets to support growth of logistics, transportation sector, stationary power, and communications sector. Co-founders Akshay Thakur and Yaroslav Kharkov zeroed in on the buying and selling of hydrogen because the current process can be inefficient and cumbersome, providing a roadblock to greater adoption of this clean fuel. Buyers send out requests-for-proposals (RFPs) to suppliers, which they must review and select before negotiating a contract. This could take as much as seven months to complete. With Blackcurrant, the process takes as little as two months. They achieve this by using advanced machine learning to provide market data about hydrogen products to consumers, as well as automating many of the manual processes involved in the transaction. The founders plan to further streamline their process with a goal of reducing transaction time to just one day.
  • Wave Photonics – UK-based company Wave Photonics is working to solve a problem that impacts a broad range of technology fields: streamlining integrated photonics component design. When he first learned about photonic integrated chip production during his PhD at the University of Cambridge, cofounder and CEO James Lee was shocked at how inefficient the process is compared to electronic chip manufacturing. He joined forces with CSO Matthew Anderson and CTO Mateusz Kubica, who bring expertise in photonics and quantitative development, respectively. Using iterative process characterization and optimization algorithms, Wave Photonics develops foundry-specific component designs. The computational approach allows the company to adjust designs for specific factors like fabrication limitations, bandwidth and wavelength range without having to start from scratch, which saves significant amounts of time and money.
  • qBraid – qBraid is a premiere cloud-based platform for quantum computing and high compute resources. Boasting fully automated installation of quantum software tools for researchers and developers in the quantum space, qBraid is poised as one of the largest quantum hardware providers to be a crucial player in workforce development, software integration, and research in quantum computing. Most notably, qBraid’s team of research scientists have serviced multiple Fortune 500 companies to release quantum software and conduct joint research. The qBraid platform has proven popular  at the most intensive hackathons at MIT, Stanford, and other institutions where users accessed 20+ quantum devices available which are seamlessly accessible with the qBraid Lab and SDK.

Life Sciences/CleanTech Startups: 

  • AddGraft – AddGraft Therapeutics is developing stem cell-based protein bio factories through a transformative platform that aims to make cell therapy more accessible. In their pre-clinical animal models, they have demonstrated great efficacy in treating enzyme deficiencies, metabolic disease, and neurological disorders. Beyond efficacy, they have generated data demonstrating their cell therapy platform to be tunable (dose controllable), long term potent, safe (hypo immune response), reversible, redosable, simple to install, and more straightforward to manufacture then other cell therapy platforms.
  • Arrow Immune: Arrow Immune is a preclinical-stage biotech company developing engineered cytokines and chemokines in immuno-oncology for treatment of solid tumors. The company’s technology localizes action of its biomolecules to tumors, to enhanced both efficacy and safety.
  • Alnair Therapeutics – Alnair Therapeutics is a preclinical stage, platform precision oncology company that focuses on new methods to treat difficult-to-treat cancers. Alnair Therapeutics developed a first-in-class drug delivery technology that leverages the unique features of cancer metabolism to enhance targeting of drugs directly to cancer cells, and significantly improve drug penetration inside these cancers.
  • Alpha Nur – Alpha Nur is revolutionizing the U.S. clean energy landscape. By recycling the toughest used fuels, they’re delivering sustainable, clean power for tomorrow’s advanced nuclear energy, strengthening U.S. energy independence and climate sustainability.
  • Riptide:  Riptide is a preclinical oncology therapeutics company spun out from Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, aiming to revolutionize standard-of-care cancer treatment. Their therapeutic focus is on targeting telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) as a cancer-specific determinant of radiation and chemotherapy resistance for multiple high value oncology indications. Their technology centers around our patented class of irreversible covalent TERT-targeted agents currently under preclinical development.

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