The 2021 Spring Cohort of the George Shultz Innovation Fund has invested $250,000 in both Esya Labs and HeioThera – and this number will increase as they solidify additional funding.
The mission of the George Shultz Innovation Fund, managed by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, is to help researchers turn their innovations into ventures that advance cutting-edge technologies, generate significant financial returns, and create a lasting impact for humankind. The teams receive guidance and dedicated support from the Polsky Center, business experts, an advisory committee, and student Innovation Fund Associates who are training in venture capitalism.
New this year, the teams were required to find accredited institutional investors to match the University’s investment, so the investment amounts will increase in the following weeks.
“We have nothing but compliments for the George Shultz Innovation Fund and the process. There was a time when there was a clear inflection point and I can see how this fund surpasses other accelerators. It is specifically tailored for deep tech startups,” said Carlo Passeri, HeioThera’s chief business officer.
Cofounded by Jeff Hubbell, Eugene Bell Professor in Tissue Engineering and Vice Dean and Executive Officer at the University of Chicago, HeioThera also participated in the second cohort of the Polsky Center’s recently-launched compass accelerator program. The startup is developing a therapeutic platform technology to treat autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
“All startups at the University of Chicago should apply to go through the George Shultz Innovation Fund. It was such a beneficial experience,” said Dhivya Venkat, CEO and cofounder of Esya Labs, which earlier this year announced that Novartis is among the first companies to use its technology.
The startup was spun out of Yamuna Krishnan’s lab at UChicago. Krishanan is a professor of chemistry and cofounded the company, which is developing tools for the early, precise, and cost-effective detection of neurodegenerative diseases to support drug discovery and personalized medicine efforts.
“Value is being taught through the Innovation Fund,” said Krishnan, who also serves as Esya Labs’ chief scientific officer.
To date, the George Shultz Innovation Fund has invested $7.8 million in 61 companies that have gone on to raise $210 million in follow-on funding. Companies launched with the fund’s support include ExplORer Surgical, Corvidia, ClostraBio, and Super.Tech.