Two Indiana University faculty teams and one IU student were chosen as winners of the inaugural IU Idea to Startup Pitch Competition.
The pitch competition, hosted by the Innovation and Commercialization Office, provided an opportunity for IU faculty, students, and staff to present their startup ideas while gaining feedback from a panel of experts.
"The commitment and enthusiasm of the participants and in particular their passion to make a meaningful contribution to society based on their work, was my favorite part about the competition." said Simran Trana, associate vice president of the IU Innovation and Commercialization Office. "We look forward to hosting future programs to assist IU innovators and entrepreneurs to mature their ideas into sustainable businesses."
Read more about the winners:
First place winners: Julia van Kessel, an associate professor in the biology department, and Laura Brown, a senior lecturer in the chemistry department, both of the IU College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington, won the competition and $15,000 with their startup idea Quoronix. Their startup aims to prevent disease caused by pathogenic Vibrio bacteria. Brown and van Kessel's team developed quorum sensing inhibitors as an alternative therapeutic strategy to treat bacterial infections. With the prize money, Quoronix will now have the resources to conduct in vivo pharmacokinetic studies and validate efficacy of PTSP, a non-antibiotic vibriosis drug, to secure NIH funding.
"This pitch competition was certainly different from any other presentation I've ever given," van Kessel said. "As academics by training, we are new to the entrepreneur world, but I loved the opportunity to showcase our invention and emphasize its importance to human health and disease treatments. We’re grateful for the award money that provides funds to Quoronix to help make the startup a reality."
Second place winners: Haixu Tang, a professor of informatics and computing, and Sujun Li, a scientist in the department of computer science, both of the IU Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, came in second place and won $10,000 with their startup, Glycopeptide Analytics: a GlycoSLASH Platform for Biomarker Discovery. Glycopeptide Analytics reduces the time it takes to identify novel glycopeptides from 2 weeks to 2 hours while increasing the number of glycopeptides identified. Furthermore, GlycoSLASH decreases false discovery rate from 10% to less than 1%, thus enabling the discovery of more novel glycopeptide biomarkers than ever before. With the prize money, Glycopeptide Analytics plans to optimize their software and seeks to find collaboration and investment opportunities.
"My experience with the pitch competition was excellent from submitting the idea, to receiving support from the Innovation and Commercialization Office, to refining the pitch," Li said. "This competition has been a great motivator for our startup as we’ve already begun preparing for the next pitch to potential investors to gain more experience and extend our startup to the next stage."
Third place winner: Matthew Joseph, a senior at the IU Kelley School of Business, was awarded third place and $5,000 for his startup idea Noveltor, a reflective and action-based tool that provides therapists' clients with specific tools and resources through an app – effectively reducing client sessions and therapists' wait lists. With the prize money, Noveltor will conduct clinical research with test groups.
"The IU Idea to Startup Pitch Competition impacted me in so many ways," Joseph said. "Not only was I able to network with other entrepreneurs, but I also received invaluable feedback to help refine my pitch. Seeing as this was my second pitch competition, I greatly appreciated the individual feedback from the judges as it was instrumental in helping me determine my next steps for my business."
Hanping Guan, director of entrepreneurship at the IU Innovation and Commercialization Office, who organized the inaugural IU Idea to Startup Pitch Competition, is now working with the winners of the competition to define next steps towards registering a legal entity for the startup, determining how to use the prize money to develop a prototype, and facilitating customer discovery to accelerate product development.