Twelve startups to compete in finals of New Venture Challenge

Team’s presentations will be webcast live beginning at 8:30 a.m. on June 6

A record 12 teams will compete June 6 in the finals of the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge, the world-renowned business launch competition run by the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

In its 23-year history, the New Venture Challenge has accelerated more than 230 currently active companies, including national brands such as Grubhub, Braintree/Venmo, Simple Mills, Tovala and Foxtrot. This year’s finalists will compete for over $1 million in cash and in-kind services, with the winning team receiving a minimum of $150,000, thanks to the Rattan L. Khosa First-Place Prize at the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge.

The NVC finals, in which teams present their business models to a panel of distinguished judges, will be webcast live from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This year’s finalists include:

  • Aegis.AI provides AI software that automatically identifies guns and public safety threats in security camera feeds to notify security and law enforcement. The system detects guns, intruders and abandoned objects in real-time, turning any security camera system into a threat-detecting smart camera system without requiring additional hardware.
  • Africana Airlines is an airline built on providing connectivity affordably and delivering a reliable service to make travel convenient in Africa.
  • Airspace is the end-to-end platform that outsources office management. Airspace​ upgrades the​ private office experience by setting up and managing your office with all the services, amenities and technology it needs.
  • Apollo Foods is a snack company whose mission is to create healthy snacks using local superfoods. The company is starting in Mexico with rice cakes fortified with cricket powder.
  • Beltech is revolutionizing energy storage by developing patent-pending advanced material technologies that allow battery manufacturers (e.g. LG Chem, Tesla, etc.), using their current manufacturing process, to mass-produce safer lithium-ion batteries that last more than two times longer between charges and reduce the overall battery cost (per unit of energy) for consumer electronics and electric vehicles.
  • Digital Adventures teaches kids through a tech-powered, project-based approach, to develop 21st-century computer coding and engineering skills that are key to solving difficult problems and making a meaningful impact in our digitally driven world.
  • Five to Nine is a platform for organizing internal programming, analyzing employee participation, and measuring overall employee engagement allowing companies to evaluate their spending and the desired and demonstrated needs of their employees in real-time.
  • GGLeagues is an eSports league that promotes community among gamers through structured competitive recreational leagues and live in person gaming events. These leagues allow gamers to play eSports in person with other gamers in their community, similar to city-wide recreational sports leagues.
  • Iris Light Technologies is a nanomaterial company delivering innovative manufacturing solutions for the rapidly growing silicon photonics (light chip) market. Our nanomaterial enables compact, color-versatile lasers for seamless integration with silicon photonics manufacturing. Iris offers a complete ‘system on a chip’ directly from the factory while achieving high production yield.
  • Kambista is a digital platform that exchanges the Peruvian Sol and the U.S. dollar at fair prices for people and small and medium enterprises, reducing the informal exchange market in Peru and Latin America without additional fees.
  • My Art Cache is a private online matching platform for art industry professionals, dealers and buyers to enable fine art dealers to capture lost sales and liquidate “hidden” inventory.
  • Veda Grace uses a revolutionary imaging technology for your phone that can see inside your skin layer-by-layer to create a personalized, once-a-day prescription product for consumers.

—Adapted from a story that first appeared on the Polsky Center website.