The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago on May 30 announced the winners of the 22nd annual Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge, a top-ranked accelerator program in the nation.
Eleven finalists shared in a $700,000 cash prize pool—the highest ever given at the New Venture Challenge, greatly surpassing last year’s prize pool of $400,000. Thanks to a recent gift from Chicago Booth alum Rattan L. Khosa, an additional $150,000 for the new Rattan L. Khosa First-Place Prize was included, as well as $240,000 that was added from various prize sponsors and distinguished judges during today’s deliberations.
“Every team that presented in today’s finals is a real and operational company that can grow beyond this program,” said Starr Marcello, executive director of the Polsky Center and adjunct professor. “We are proud of all the teams that presented to our investors today, and those that took part in the 22nd year of the NVC. We are excited to see them grow.”
Finalists presented to 27 distinguished judges—including Dan Caruso, MBA’90, founder and CEO of Zayo Group; Immanuel Thangaraj, MBA’93, managing director of Essex Woodlands Health Ventures; and Penny Pritzker, founder and chairman of PSP Capital and U.S. Secretary of Commerce under President Barack Obama, among others.
Winners of the 2018 NVC include:
Manifest, a distributed ledger solution that will standardize 401(k) transfers, won first place and $315,000, including $150,000 from the Rattan L. Khosa First-Place Prize, $120,000 from individual distinguished judges, $25,000 from The Caruso Foundation and $20,000 for their acceptance into the Pritzker Group Venture Fellows Program this summer. Manifest, which is a member of the Polsky Incubator, is creating a network between 401(k) providers and streamlining the process to help eliminate the estimated $2.5B that providers lose each year due to these inefficiencies.
Mindful Urgent Care, a company offering same-day, non-emergent mental health and substance abuse psychiatric services to insured and cash-paying clients, took home second place and $125,000, including $75,000 from individual distinguished judges, $25,000 from The Caruso Foundation, $12,500 from the Polsky Center and $12,500 from the UChicago Innovation Fund. Mindful Urgent Care was the winner of the 2018 Global New Venture Challenge and will be opening its first location in New York in the next month.
Coeus.ai, a company that empowers video game streamers and gamers by utilizing proprietary machine-learning algorithms to automatically create hundreds of highlights out of any video game stream and gameplay, won third place and $90,000, which includes $40,000 from OCA Ventures, $25,000 from The Caruso Foundation, $12,500 from the Polsky Center and $12,500 from the UChicago Innovation Fund.
There was a tie between MUU and BrewBike, each taking home $45,000. Muu, a Brazilian ice cream that has less calories, more protein and less fat than traditional brands, took home $22,500 from the Polsky Center and $22,500 from the UChicago Innovation Fund. BrewBike, a company that provides coffee to college communities, took home $20,000 for their acceptance into the Pritzker Group Venture Fellows Program this summer, $12,500 from the Polsky Center and $12,500 from the UChicago Innovation Fund.
Oxalo Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company based on University of Chicago research and committed to ending the epidemic of kidney stones, took home $25,000, including $12,500 from the Polsky Center and $12,500 from the UChicago Innovation Fund.
nuBorn Medical, a company creating a smart baby bottle system to diagnose and treat feeding problems in preterm infants, took home $15,000 including $7,500 from the Polsky Center and $7,500 from the UChicago Innovation Fund.
Four finalists: Seurat Therapeutics, FORESEEaBill, Sweet Karma and Haystack ABI each took home $10,000, including $5,000 from the Polsky Center and $5,000 from the UChicago Innovation Fund. Seurat Therapeutics is a biotech startup developing a new medication that can stop migraines before they start. FORSEEaBill is an innovative platform technology that provides life sciences organizations with decision support in identifying the appropriate payer for every test, procedure and service performed during a clinical trial. Sweet Karma is a dessert company focusing on innovative dessert for health and fitness conscious people. Haystack ABI is a data-driven management platform for restaurants.
The New Venture Challenge finals is one of the marquee events of UChicago Innovation Fest. Now in its third year, UChicago Innovation Fest celebrates pioneering discovery and entrepreneurial endeavors at the University of Chicago. Led by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the month of events, workshops and accelerator programs highlights the breadth and impact of innovation at UChicago in the areas of entrepreneurship and research commercialization, scientific advancements and social impact.