The Polsky Deep Tech Ventures program builds on a previous experiment with an accelerator dedicated to quantum computing, a challenging but promising area of technology where U of C is a leader. It is also another expansion of U of C’s efforts over the past decade to become more adept at turning research prowess in medicine, mathematics, physics and other disciplines into commercial enterprises.
Over the past quarter century, the U of C Booth School of Business and the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation have become well-known launching pads for startups like Grubhub. Now he’s looking for similar success launching companies with a greater focus on hard science, which take longer to germinate.
“These are companies that are harder to start and take more money because you have to de-risk the technology at the same time you develop the business model,” he says. jay schrankler, associate vice president and director of the Polsky Center. “The upsides tend to be much larger.”
One of the best examples of the kinds of home runs that can come from groundbreaking science is Moderna, the MIT biotech spin-out that developed one of the first successful COVID-19 vaccines.
“Top-tier universities are giving more resources and attention to entrepreneurship at the highest levels,” says Erik Gordon, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. “In the past, they didn’t pay much attention to entrepreneurship because it didn’t really factor into their reputation. Those days are long gone.”
U of C has been steadily putting money behind its technology commercialization ambitions, launching facilities and programs to encourage employees and students to take the plunge to start companies, as well as venture funds to provide the investments. initials that are often more difficult to achieve. get.
The George Shultz Innovation Fund, launched 12 years ago to provide seed investments of up to $250,000, has invested $6.8 million in more than 90 companies. The university followed with a $25 million fund in 2016 to put money from the U of C endowment into startups, which has invested in 19 companies.
U of C is encouraged by an early but modest success of its first deep tech accelerator, Duality, which launched for quantum startups last year. One of the start-ups, co-founded by a Ph.D. from the U of C. student and faculty member, was quickly acquired.
The university also has some other successes, says Schrankler, such as the IPO of the early-stage cancer drug company. Pyxis Oncology and sales of early-stage health technology companies Surgical Explorer and NowPow.
U of C is accepting applications for its data science and artificial intelligence accelerator, which is expected to launch in March with up to eight startups. The plan is to offer the four-month program twice a year.
It’s open to those outside of Chicago and the U of C, too, in hopes of attracting promising new businesses to the city. EeroQ, an East Lansing, Michigan startup that was part of the quantum computing accelerator, recently moved to Chicago after earning an investment from U of C alumnus Joe Mansueto.