The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is pleased to announce that six teams have been selected for the latest cohort of Compass, a deep-tech accelerator program for researchers from the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.
The compass is designed for startups and early-stage technologies and draws on expertise from across the university ecosystem, connecting teams with Business Development Fellows from the Chicago Booth School of Business.
Teams are led by business development fellows who work closely with the scientific team that has created these innovative technologies and who have set a vision for the company.
Cohort 5 includes:
- Gateway Biome // Gateway Biome’s prototype IBD management tool is based on functional biomarkers that have been selected by machine learning algorithms and further refined to represent specific microbiome functional subsystems, where imbalances either indicate impending changes in the patient’s condition and / or contribute to development and disease chronicity. can be identified. The underlying technology is based on selected microbiota-derived metabolites that directly reflect microbial community functions that can monitor and predict the clinical course of IBD. The approach has many advantages of 16S rRNA and metagenomic profiling, which are at best surrogate markers of function, highly variable among individuals or simply not useful as clinical tools.
- Team members: Eugene Chang, PI, co-founder, University of Chicago; Joseph Pierre, co-founder, University of Wisconsin; Ryan Chang, corporate management, industry; Brian Coe, Corporate Management, Chicago Booth
- Innoface // Innoface’s newly patented technology allows a degree of control over face images that has never been seen before. They utilize critical insights from social and cognitive psychology, vast amounts of human assessment data, and advanced developments in artificial intelligence to generate, manipulate, and even derive the impressions the general public will have of facial images from 34 different characteristics. A prototype of this system has been developed as a high-level API.
- Team members: Alex Todorov, PI, co-founder, University of Chicago; Tom Griffiths, co-founder, Princeton University; Jordan Suchow, Scientific Adviser and Co-Founder, Stevens Institute of Technology; Joshua Peterson, postdoc, Griffiths Lab, Princeton University; Stefan Uddenberg, postdoc, head, University of Chicago; Laksh Kalra, Business Manager, Chicago Booth
- Riptide Therapeutics // Riptide Therapeutics is developing a new, first-class, targeted covalent inhibitor (TCI) of telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT). The technology differs from both previous development of telomerase inhibitors as well as DNA damage repair inhibitors that are currently on the market and under development. The TERT inhibitor is focused on DNA damage repair activity in addition to canonical function and other pro-cancer non-canonical functions. TERT is not significantly expressed in healthy somatic tissue, and this should enable the team to develop a DNA damage repair TERT inhibitor as a therapy sensitizer with fewer potential toxicity problems.
- Team members: Stephen Kron, PI, co-founder, University of Chicago; Karl Scheidt, co-founder, Northwestern University; Grant Frost, postdoc, Northwestern University; Yue Liu, Postdoc, Kron Lab, University of Chicago; James Jung, Business Consultant, Chicago Booth
- Thrift // By combining next-generation sequencing, multiplexed culturomics, and statistical learning, Sparsity has developed a generalizable and protectable ecosystem-scale synthetic biology platform with comprehensive applications for pharma, biotechnology, and environmental remediation. At its core, the platform quickly combines individual bacterial strains from a proprietary tribal bank of 1,600 human gut commensals and 500 soil microbes to create synthetic communities of varying but precisely defined diversity and complexity. While traditional composite displays rely on the random selection of component parts, Sparsity has developed a new search strategy that leverages evolutionary design principles to dramatically enrich microbial communities that are functional.
- Team members: Arjun Raman, PI, University of Chicago; Seppe Kuehn, co-founder, University of Chicago; Robert Chen, co-founder, University of Chicago
- SynthBits // SynthBits’ technology is based on its patent-pending organometallic optically addressable spin quantum bits. Basically, the team constructs the electronic structure of a transition metal center (e.g., chromium) using synthetic chemistry through ligand design to have a spin (magnetization) coupled to an optical signal. The designed molecules are approximately 1 nanometer in size and could be functionalized to bind to the aforementioned biomolecules. A small chemical modification changes the optical and magnetic colors, enabling many different channels for detection.
- Team Members: David Awschalom, PI, Founder, University of Chicago; Berk Kovos, postdoc, University of Chicago
It is also joining the cohort of Fermilab as part of the Lab Innovation Fellowship program sQope PI and founder, Silvia Zorzetti, who explores methods to achieve high efficiency in microwave optical quantum transduction and high credibility in quantum state transmissions. The technology is based on the coupling of superconducting radio frequency (SRF) cavities with electro-optical crystals. These hybrid devices would serve as repeaters in a quantum Internet that transmits states and infiltrates photons over a single cryostat. In quantum communication, this would enable the security of communication channels, for example through key distribution cryptography protocols.
All of these teams will receive support to find business talent to help them get out of the lab as well as guidance in seeking early funding sources, such as grants and start-up funding.
A participant in Cohort 4 – which concludes with a “demo day” this month – OrisDX recently won first place and $ 655,000 in the 26th annual Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge, signature venture competition for the MBA students at University of Chicago Booth School of Business. A startup developing saliva-based diagnostics for screening for oral cancers and pre-cancer, OrisDX is also a finalist in the George Shultz Innovation Fund and was a participant in the Polsky Center’s I-Corps program.