Up to $50,000 in seed investments is available for faculty who recently started a company to commercialize Arizona State University-owned inventions during the fourth annual Skysong Innovations Startup Challenge.
The annual pitch event is accepting applications through Aug. 31. Up to six finalists will be selected following a pitch event in November to receive $25,000 in convertible notes. The winner will receive an additional $25,000.
“This exciting annual event showcases the cutting-edge technologies being developed within ASU labs and commercialized through job-creating ASU startups,” said Charlie Lewis, vice president of venturedevelopment and physical sciences at Skysong Innovations. “The Startup Challenge utilizes outside venture capitalists and entrepreneurs to select the companies most worthy of investment amongst a highly competitive pool of applicants.”
To participate in the competition, the company must have signed a license agreement or option agreement with pre-negotiated license terms with Skysong Innovations between July 1, 2021, and Aug. 31, 2022. Skysong Innovations is ASU’s specialized technology commercialization organization. It helps translate research into real-world impact by protecting innovative technologies developed in ASU labs and negotiating licensing deals with commercial partners. Those commercial partners, which range from new companies spun out of ASU to large Fortune 100 enterprises, then advance such technologies into product development with the goal of bringing new solutions to the marketplace.
The 2021 Startup Challenge grand-prize winner was GenexGen Inc., which was co-founded by Samira Kiani and won $50,000. The company, selected by a panel of judges out of 12 entries, develops epigenetic-based immunosuppressants that supercharge other gene therapies and help to combat cancer and autoimmune diseases. Kiani was formerly an assistant professor in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineeringat ASU.
“The Skysong Innovations challenge win was a great boost to our fledgling company at a time that we needed it the most,” Kiani said. “It brought in further validation, as well as resources to enable the company to push the operation and R&D forward. We are very grateful for this opportunity.”
The following companies were finalists in the 2021 competition, and each received a $25,000 convertible note.
- VaxSyna Inc. is developing low-cost vaccines and therapeutics that can be easily modified to combat various pathogens associated with global health challenges. The technology was invented by Hugh Mason, associate professor in the Biodesign Center for Immunotherapy, Vaccines and Virotherapy, and academic associate Mary Pardhe.
- En Carta Diagnostics Ltd. is developing next-generation paper-based diagnostic tests that are low cost, reliable and field-ready to deploy, and meet surge capacity for diagnosis and surveillance of pathogens. Inventors of this technology include Alex Green, assistant professor in the School of Molecular Sciences and the Biodesign Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics.
- Dash Tech Integrated Circuits LLC develops and produces world-leading, microprocessors for the future of high-performance embedded systems. The technology was developed by Daniel Bliss, professor in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering.
- Gila Diagnostics Inc. is developing a proteomics platform to aid in drug development, disease diagnosis and personalized medicine. The platform was developed by Ji Qui, Biodesign Institute research professor, and Josh LaBaer, Biodesign Institute executive director.
- Argos Vision Corporation is focused on technology that accelerates running neural networks on solar-powered embedded devices to provide traffic data to cities and states using smart cameras. It was developed by Yezhou Yang, an assistant professor in computer science and engineering in the School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence, and research assistant Mohammad Farhadi.
- GELF Sciences Inc. is developing microbial technologies that process food and sewage waste streams into transportable hydrogen gas for the maritime and transportation sectors. The technologies were invented by John Sabo, professor in the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation, Bruce Rittmann, Biodesign Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology director and professor, and Cesar Torres, associate professor in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy.