Polsky Center launches DeepTechU conference to foster deep tech startups

First-of-its-kind venture conference will convene investors, innovators across Midwest

The University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation has launched DeepTechU, a first-of-its-kind venture conference convening venture capital investors and faculty innovators showcasing deep tech innovation.

Taking place April 20-22, the virtual conference will feature quick pitches and discussions with industry experts and entrepreneurs from deep tech, which focuses on significant scientific and engineering challenges.

“The Midwest is uniquely positioned to lead in deep tech, meaning the types of early-stage technologies that require fundamental breakthroughs to advance science and move innovations into use in the world,” said Juan de Pablo, vice president for national laboratories, science strategy, innovation and global initiatives at the University of Chicago. “The Midwest is home to some of the world’s premier efforts in materials science and engineering, sustainability, energy storage, or quantum information sciences, to name a few areas that are central to deep tech development.”

“In addition, the University of Chicago manages two of our nation’s preeminent U.S. Department of Energy Laboratories, Argonne and Fermilab, which further elevate the scale of the region’s scientific footprint,” added de Pablo. “If you also consider the expertise from the top-ranked Booth School of Business, and our expanding global reach, you quickly realize that the key ingredients for a vibrant innovation ecosystem are all in place. We look forward to working together with some of the nation’s most innovative universities to advance deep tech development for all.”

Six University of Chicago spinouts supported by the Polsky Center—including Esya Labs, ClostraBio, ReAx Biotechnologies, Arrow Immune, Nanopattern Technologies and Iris Light Technologies—will deliver quick pitches at DeepTechU along with more than 40 other startups.

Polsky is the home of the University’s technology transfer office, which manages all intellectual property from faculty research. It has a 25-year track record of applying world-class business expertise from Chicago Booth to bring new ideas and technologies to market.

“Our faculty at the University of Chicago are driving breakthrough innovations that will transform the way we live and work,” said Jay Schrankler, associate vice president and head of the Polsky Center. “The Polsky Center launched DeepTechU to help shine a brighter light on all the emerging deep technologies, not only coming out of the University of Chicago, but also from partner research universities and national labs located throughout the greater Midwest.”

The goal of the conference is two-fold: provide investors with early looks into cutting-edge deep tech innovation out of universities, national labs and other organizations throughout the Midwest; and educate faculty inventors and other researchers about what investors are looking for and how to successfully raise capital.

“We believe deep tech will play an essential role in addressing many of the challenges facing society today, by responding quickly to develop new therapies, agricultural solutions, and transformational uses for synthetic biology,” said DeepTechU keynote speaker Chris Meldrum, an entrepreneur-in-residence at DCVC Bio, a venture capital firm investing in deep tech. “I’m excited to participate in DeepTechU to not only draw attention to the breakthroughs happening in deep tech, but also to highlight the innovative work coming out of the Midwest.”

Other UChicago speakers include entrepreneur Jeff Hubbell—the Eugene Bell Professor in Tissue Engineering and deputy dean for development at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering—and Maryellen Giger, the A.N. Pritzker Distinguished Service Professor of Radiology. Giger is also the co-founder of Quantitative Insights, which uses machine learning to aid cancer diagnosis. The company started through Polsky’s annual Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge.

The DeepTechU conference is presented in collaboration with Centrepolis Accelerator at Lawrence Technological University, Chain Reaction Innovations at Argonne National Laboratory, Fermi National Accelerator LaboratoryIndiana UniversityInnovation Crossroads at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Keenan Center for Entrepreneurship at the Ohio State UniversityPenn State UniversityPurdue UniversityNuTech Ventures at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, Northwestern UniversityRutgers UniversityUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUniversity of IowaUniversity of MarylandUniversity of MinnesotaUniversity of Nebraska and Washington University in St. Louis.

Additional partners include Discovery Partners InstituteIllinois Science & Technology CoalitionP33Startup Chicago and World Business Chicago.

For more information and to register for the conference, visit deeptechu.com.