Chicago Innovation Exchange celebrates opening of Harper Court space with Innovation Fund recipients, inaugural Student Fund Associates

The Chicago Innovation Exchange, the University of Chicago’s new center for technology and commercial development, opened its first facility and announced four Innovation Fund recipients along with the first class of Innovation Fund Student Associates.

The Chicago Innovation Exchange; UChicagoTech, the University’s Center for Technology Development & Ventures; and the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the University’s venture creation hub, all support the Innovation Fund, which has awarded $275,000 for proof-of-concept work and business development for three faculty research projects and one UChicago spin-off venture.

The Chicago Innovation Exchange also has selected a multidisciplinary group of 16 University students to serve as associates who will help screen, research and support future Innovation Fund projects.

“The Innovation Fund and the associates program are two components that will help us expand our network of innovators across the University,” said John Flavin, executive director of the Chicago Innovation Exchange, at the Feb. 13 opening of the CIE’s new offices on the 11th-floor sky deck of Harper Court.

The innovation hub will occupy new facilities in three buildings on 53rd Street: the meeting space at Harper Court, the second floors of the revitalized Harper Theater complex and the building on the southwest corner of 53rd and Harper. The main CIE space above the theater is expected to open in the fall, with the final space, which will house a rapid prototyping lab, coming online in early 2015.

Winter 2014 Innovation Fund Projects

The Innovation Fund has awarded nearly $1.8 million to 25 University projects since 2010. In October 2013, the University announced plans to expand the fund to up to $20 million to support faculty and student commercialization efforts.

“The Innovation Fund addresses the critical bottleneck facing early-stage technologies on the path to commercialization,” said Alan Thomas, associate vice president and director of UChicagoTech. “With the expansion of the fund under the Chicago Innovation Exchange, we look forward to growing our capacity to bring discoveries to the public.”

The winter 2014 Innovation Fund projects are:

  • Quantitative Insights’ QuantX U.S. Product Launch: $100,000 to complete the clinical studies and market study needed for FDA clearance of QuantX, a software platform that assists radiologists in making more accurate and more efficient breast cancer diagnoses. Quantitative Insights is a University spin-off founded on the image analytics work of Maryellen L. Giger, A.N. Pritzker Professor of Radiology.
  • Simplified Chromatin Conformation Capture (S3C): $70,000 to further develop a new tool for identifying distant genomic interactions key to normal biological function as well as diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune and inflammatory disorders, into a streamlined kit and work to make it available to researchers and drug developers. Ryan J. Bourgo, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Ben May Department for Cancer Research, and Geoffrey L. Greene, Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor and Chair of the Ben May Department for Cancer Research, are leading the project.
  • Companion Diagnostic for Treatment of Estrogen Receptor Negative Breast Cancer: $55,000 to develop a diagnostic tool that can accurately identify tumors in patients likely to benefit from a new targeted breast cancer treatment. Suzanne Conzen, Professor in the Department of Medicine, section of Hematology/Oncology is leading the project.
  • Easy-to-use, High-fidelity Hydrodynamic Simulation Software Package for Development of New Light-Source Technologies: $50,000 to adapt software developed by UChicago’s Flash Center for Computational Science for modeling complex extreme ultraviolet light sources, which will be needed for the next generation of semiconductor chips. Don Q. Lamb, Director, Flash Center for Computational Science; and the Robert A. Millikan Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and the Enrico Fermi Institute, is leading the project.

Innovation Fund applicants submitted initial proposals by mid-September 2013. Finalists were invited to submit full proposals and present their projects to an advisory group of venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and business strategy experts at the Booth School of Business in December 2013. For more information on these and past awardees, visit the Funded Projects section on the UChicagoTech website.

The next round of Innovation Fund winners will be selected this spring. To apply, visit

“The Innovation Fund provides lifeblood for promising technologies and early-stage companies,” said Ellen Rudnick, executive director of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “We are excited to support these talented men and women and their ideas.”

Experiential Learning for Student Associates

Innovation Fund Student Associates will receive training to prepare them to assist with assessing and selecting Innovation Fund projects. They will work in multidisciplinary teams to provide research and business development support for funded projects. The 16 students in the inaugural class of associates were chosen from the College, Chicago Booth, Chicago Harris, the Law School, and the Biological Sciences and Physical Sciences divisions.

“The Innovation Fund Student Associates Program will be an integral part of the Innovation Fund,” said Jason Pariso, director of operations for the Innovation Fund. “The students will have the opportunity to experience and learn the discipline of early-stage technology assessment and investment, and the funded projects will benefit from the energy and curiosity the students will bring to the work and to the Chicago Innovation Exchange.”

Each class of associates will serve for one year. Students interested in applying should register at to be notified when the application process opens. The application for the next cohort opens on Feb. 28.