The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago has chosen two companies – NanoPattern Technologies and ReAx Biotechnologies – to invest in as part of the George Shultz Innovation Fund. Both teams received $150,000.
NanoPattern Technologies will use the funds to support commercialization of a photopatternable quantum dot ink that enables the commercialization of the next generation of displays.
“This ink product is sold to display component makers to enable manufacturing of full color microdisplays for augmented reality, virtual reality, wearables, smartphones, tablets, and televisions,” said team lead and CEO Yu Kambe, who received his PhD from the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering in 2019.
Kambe and fellow cofounder Dmitri Talapin (PI), Louis Block Professor in the department of chemistry, first met as part of the 2018 Spring Cohort. While they did not receive any funding at the time, Kambe said the experience, with help from the Innovation Fund Associates, made it clear that the technology had a market fit.
To date, the team raised a total of $750,000 in grants from the Department of Energy (Chain Reaction Innovations), National Science Foundation (SBIR Phase I), and a Fortune 500 Manufacturer. With the cumulated funding, the team has de-risked 2/3 of the risks associated with the technology and built out partnerships with large chemical companies, said Kambe.
“With these accomplishments in place, the management team worked very closely with the Associates to independently validate their market hypothesis,” he explained. Kambe, who is also a proud alumni of the Innovation Fund Associates program himself, said the team was able to work effectively from the first day with “the generous associates team.”
“Through this GSIF experience, NanoPattern not only raised the funding needed to secure the necessary intellectual property and a path to their projected Seed fundraising round, but also furthered their business model and pro-forma with the help from the associates,” said Kambe.
“For NanoPattern, GSIF is not only a fund, but an opportunity to strengthen the business model and validate their go to market strategy with some of the brightest analysts in the US,” he added. As for what comes next, the team will work to retire the last technical risk, sign joint development agreements with customers, and raise a seed round.
ReAx Biotechnologies is developing new protein activity profiling technologies for next-generation diagnostics and drug development support. ReAx can perform functional analysis of dozens of protein targets in a matter of hours using picograms of biological sample, a paradigm shift relative to legacy methods that require expensive equipment, milligrams of sample, and weeks of analysis.
“We are excited to use the [Innovation Fund investment] to further establish the ReAx platform and develop a pipeline of therapeutic leads for challenging protein targets in cancer,” said Ray Moellering, founder and associate professor in UChicago’s chemistry department.
According to the team, ReAx will discover novel biomarkers for next-generation liquid biopsies and provide pan-pipeline support to pharma partners, improving clinical outcomes for patients.
“Our proteomic platform technologies position us to discover novel therapeutics targeting proteins resistant to traditional drug discovery approaches. Working with the GSIF Advisory Committee and IFA team, we refined how we communicate this vision to investors,” said Eric Chapman, MBA/MS ’21, the team’s commercial lead. “Through the process, we accelerated our transition from academic endeavor to business venture. We’re now better prepared to approach partners in the commercial and capital markets.”