UChicago Innovation Fund supports cutting-edge health care, IT companies with $550,000

Rhianna Wisniewski
Assistant Director of Communications Office of the Executive Vice President for Research, Innovation and National Laboratories

The University of Chicago’s Innovation Fund announced plans to invest more than half a million dollars in three ventures developed to improve healthcare and agriculture through innovative solutions. With these latest investments, the Innovation Fund has provided more than $3.6 million for 38 ventures with high potential for societal and commercial impact.

Five finalists presented their ideas to the Innovation Fund advisory committee on Dec. 4, 2015, and for the first time, the public was invited to attend. More than 100 people gathered at the Chicago Innovation Exchange to learn about new technologies being developed by researchers at UChicago and its affiliated laboratories.

“The Innovation Fund, in combination with a multitude of other resources available at the University of Chicago, is designed to help support entrepreneurs in taking their next step and exploring the path to commercialization,” said John Flavin, executive director of the Chicago Innovation Exchange. “In this cycle, the committee has again chosen to invest in three projects that have the potential to transform inventive ideas into products and services that reach the marketplace.”

The Chicago Innovation Exchange, in partnership with UChicagoTech and the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, manage the Innovation Fund. Twice a year, a call for proposals is extended to researchers at UChicago, Argonne National Laboratory, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and the Marine Biological Laboratory who are considering commercializing their technology and ideas.

The following teams will be supported this year.

Navipoint Genomics, LLC was awarded $175,000 to support the development of the team’s advanced genomics analysis platform. The innovative technology allows them to transfer and analyze full human genomes 50- to 100-times faster than competitive solutions, reducing the time of large-scale analysis from months to days. Team members from the Computation Institute and Argonne plan to use the funding to build a full proof-of-concept that will be HIPAA compliant and secure for use in clinical practice. The research team comprises Paul Davé, Ravi Madduri, Dina Sulakhe, and Alex Rodriguez, as well as strategic advisors Ian Foster, the Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor of Computer Science and director of the Computation Institute, and Steve Tuecke, deputy director at the Computation Institute.

Praedictus Climate Solutions has developed new software tools that provide more accurate and timely projections of crop yields than current approaches do. The team will receive $125,000 from the Innovation Fund to validate their system with additional crops and in new geographies. The Computation Institute’s Joshua Elliott, Prof. Ian Foster, and David Kelly collaborated on this project, along with colleague Robert Okabe.

RiMO Therapeutics will receive $250,000 to help study its proprietary high-precision cancer treatment in humans. Their scalable solution, which uses nanotechnology to deliver low-dose X-ray treatments, has shown to be highly effective in eradicating solid tumors. The team plans to use the funding to complete its pre-clinical studies and launch the first in-human study by summer 2016. Making up the RiMO Therapeutics team are chairman and CEO Wenbin Lin, the James Frank Professor of Chemistry and the Comprehensive Cancer Center;
 chief medical officer for RiMO Therapeutics Ralph R. Weichselbaum, chair of Radiation and Cellular Oncology; RiMO adviser Everett E. Vokes, chair of Medicine and the John E. Ultmann Professor of Medicine and Radiation Oncology; and Chunbai He, a research professional in nanomedicine.

RiMO Therapeutics also has executed the first UCGo! Startup License with the University of Chicago. The UCGo! Startup License is an optional, standardized license agreement to increase entrepreneurship at the University.