AVX September 2021 Update

Ahmet-Hamdi Cavusoglu

September 1, 2021

AVX is turning five this month! Back in 2016, AVX started as an experiment; an attempt by several leading research universities to match our new ventures with fundable entrepreneurs. Our hypothesis was that we can all do this better by pooling deals and pooling entrepreneurial relationships while creating an intuitive and attractive platform for facilitating matching. Though the road from Sept 2016 has been a wild one, we are so happy that you've joined us on this journey so far; from our first venture to find talent via AVX (NoMoDx), our first ventures to raise a Series A, an expanding community of universities, entrepreneurs, along with advisors and investors and our longer aggregation of news and events across the community. It remains an exciting time in tech transfer! Thank you all! When I joined AVX four years ago, I was lured by the opportunity to give back and help emerging deep tech ventures from universities grow as a team as they connect with you all. As we look into the future, please let us know what has worked for you and what AVX can do to continue growing and improving for the community!

Conversation Statistics

We are up to 14,009 total connections and conversations on the AVX network - 548 more over the last month (4% month over month growth). We are currently tracking 21 potential match negotiations and another 107 with multi-month long discussions heading toward possible matches. We have now actively connected 603 different ventures (out of 1800+ examined) with 1394 different entrepreneurs and investors (out of a pool of 3200+)

With our updated interface, you can see all ventures here: AVX Feed

In the rest of this newsletter, I will highlight some of our progress at AVX, highlight a few (digital) events from around the network, and some think pieces to examine.

A few upcoming headlines and deadlines for the AVX community:

  1. IndieBio is a leading life science accelerator, investing in over 160 companies across human and planetary health. Our 4-month acceleration program includes $525K funding, dedicated mentorship, and fully-equipped laboratories in San Francisco and New York. During the program, teams are focused on turning science into product, closing customers, and raising investment. Fall application deadline: Oct 15th.
  2. Berkeley SkyDeck is industry agnostic and welcomes founders who believe their ideas can change the world and become the next moonshot. SkyDeck offers a 6-month acceleration program, access to a network of 350+ exceptional advisors/mentors, a $105,000 investment, and access to UC Berkeley faculty and talent–including the global network of 510,000 living Berkeley alumni. Startups are eligible if they have a team member (founder, employee, advisor) that is either affiliated with any of the 10 University of California campuses or is an international founder looking to bring their business to the US. Applications for Batch 13 are now open! Apply today at https://bit.ly/380tgit
  3. Counterfactual Ventures leverages emerging technologies and synthesizes insights across the protein value chain to build startups that create a climate-positive, humane and secure future of food. We offer scientists and technical domain experts a maximally supportive environment in which to launch high-growth, high-impact startups, with a focus on alternative protein technology platforms, enablement businesses, market catalysts, and push technologies. We're seeking founders to co-create our first four companies and will support successful applicants in finding their ideal co-founder(s), provide $300,000 of pre-seed capital, and six months of tailored incubation to accelerate market and investment readiness. Learn more and apply before August 15th to be considered for the first cohort.
  4. Wilbe’s Become a Science Founder Fellowship is a hands-on 4 week fellowship for scientists interested in entrepreneurship delivered by our friends at Wilbe, a London-based venture firm that educates, supports and invests in Scientist Leaders. We believe in putting scientists in control of their research and entrepreneurial journey and the first step to do this is business knowhow. Join 30 Fellows selected from leading research institutions in Europe, and now the US, at the next BSF in October. Application deadline: 26 September 2021.
  5. $200K Pillar VC Pitch Competition invites biotech founders attacking the world’s largest problems at the frontier of biology and engineering to submit an idea for the chance to win mentorship and non-dilutive grants totaling $150K. Share background about idea, your team, and a < 2 minute introduction video. You can apply online here. The deadline for applications is October 1st.
  6. Forest City SynBio: we believe that synthetic biology has the power to make our ways of living better, healthier, and more sustainable. We are looking for companies that tackle a specific, focused problem. We aim to accelerate the transition from idea to market, so strong applicants have a well-developed idea aimed at a high-impact market opportunity. Applications are now open.
  7. Nemedio's noQS is an academic license of its Compliance Tools platforms, which allow companies to ease into compliance and regulatory work with a focus on early stage R&D and design, allowing for agile development, fewer and faster engineering iterations, and quicker commercialization. The noQS is a subset of the design history file, and a powerful tool to accelerate development and precompliance processes. This academic license offers free access for 3 months, as well as onboarding with the Nemedio regulatory and R&D experts.

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If you’re looking to get involved in the deep tech startup ecosystem, check out the On Deck Deep Tech Fellowship (ODDT). They're assembling a community for bright and ambitious people to come together to build, join, and advise the next generation of deep tech startups. 

Programming is remote-first and includes deep dives with industry experts and academia, startup demo days with select angel investors and VCs and workshops covering the fundamentals of deep tech entrepreneurship in the sectors of life sciences, energy, manufacturing, space, hardware and machine learning.

Who are the founding fellows and mentors of ODDT?

Life Sciences: Alexis Rovner (64xBio), Jake Becraft (Strand Tx), Justin Kolbeck (Wildtype), Ben Kamens (Spring Discovery)
Energy: Peter Lobaccaro (Dept of Energy), Adrienne Little (Google X), Nuno Pereira (Holy Grail)

Manufacturing: Dhash (Radix) , Alex Appelbe (Metis Labs), Dival Banerjee (VueCason)

Space: Keenan Johnson (SpaceX), Kartik Kumar (Sat Search), Adam Obrusnik (PlasmaSolve)

Hardware: Hayk Martiros (Skydio), Ralf Schonherr (Neatleaf), Michael Dubrovsky (SiPhox)

Machine Learning: Sharon Zhou (Stanford), Emma Qian (DeepMind), Abhishek Kar (Google), Arvind Neelakantan (OpenAI)

Program details:

  • Apply: https://www.beondeck.com/deeptech (time < 15 minutes)
  • Application Deadline: Rolling admission, final deadline is October 2nd 2021
  • Contact: oddeeptech@beondeck.com
  • Reduced pricing for academics with scholarships available

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Top Digital Events

Sep 14: Rock Health Summit is a digital health conference that brings together diverse minds from technology, medicine, policy, and beyond for inspired and informed conversation and connection. Sparked by discussions with innovators in healthcare and technology, attendees will leave recharged and ready to make a lasting impact. The opportunity to forge meaningful connections with individuals and organizations committed to producing impact-driven solutions is hardcoded into the summit’s design. The jam-packed afternoon will be followed by a virtual series highlighting locally-led innovations from across the country throughout the fall.

Sep 14: NSIN Defense Innovation Accelerator - Cohort Showcase The NSIN Defense Innovation Accelerator (DIA) powered by FedTech pairs teams of entrepreneurs with cutting-edge Department of Defense inventions to assess the commercialization potential of the technologies and generate solutions to real-world problems for the Department. Teams work closely with the DoD inventors, mentors, and coaches during an intensive four-month program that culminates with a Showcase Day that is open to the public.

Sep 22: Equalize 2021 Equalize is a virtual mentor program and pitch competition designed to take national action around the disparity of women academic inventors forming university startups. Notable teams from last year included Nerve Repair Technologies from UPitt, Center Pharm from Yale, and Sardona Therapeutics from UCLA. And some of the upcoming ventures you've seen here on AVX, including Aero Therapeutics and MyophonX - we're excited to see all the excellent presentations!

Sep 23: Dolphin Tank: Women Innovators from Yale University AmplifyHERscience, a new program of Yale’s Office of Cooperative Research, is inviting applications for a “shark tank” style event in which aspiring entrepreneurs, including women and other underrepresented groups, will pitch their startup ideas to business professionals. In this case, co-organizers are calling it the Innovators from Yale University Dolphin Tank, a “friendly-feedback” session in which participants will receive constructive advice and practical insights following 3 to 5 minute pitches. The Dolphin Tank program was developed by Springboard Enterprises in 2017. The virtual event, which will be hosted in conjunction with Springboard Enterprises, will be held at 12 p.m. Sept. 23. Springboard’s mission is to accelerate the growth of entrepreneurial companies led by women through access to essential resources and a global community of experts.

DIGITAL EVENTS

Some Thought Pieces

Along with Equalize coming up, Osage University Partners recently released Inspiring Academic Female Founders. OUP interviewed several women academic entrepreneurs about their stories in building their startup ventures in order to shine a light on their journeys and build awareness to their successes and challenges along the way. OUP is currently spotlighting 6 women they interviewed in 2020 and they hope that sharing their stories will inspire more like-minded women academic entrepreneurs that they too can take the leap. And OUP plans to continue this series in the future! Please contact then at info@oup.vc with inspiring academic women entrepreneurs you would like to see highlighted. I would suggest Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic (who you can hear on the Columbia Invent's podcast!) and Angelika Fretzen (who you can hear on the BIOS Podcast by Alix Ventures!)

In academic venture and innovation news, Fast Company recently interviewed Dava Newman about her updated vision for the MIT Media Lab to tackle tougher problems head on, and getting more involved with opportunities outside of the lab itself. Also, UCI named Errol Arkilic as their new chief innovation officer and Beall Applied Innovation executive director. And there have been a rash of announcements about academic ventures, with CoRISMA (Yale) securing a $27 Million Series A, VIDROVR (Columbia) raising an additional $2.5 million with Prefix Capital leading the round, and ColdQuanta (Colorado) appointing Scott Faris as CEO. And for those who missed these previous events, you can check out the Deep Tech Connect Summit and the Extreme Tech Challenge 2021 here.

And taking a look deeper into team building from the top of the newsletter, there has been a marked increase of co-founders entering 'couples therapy' as teams try to (re)discover themselves. Others have taken the time to be retrospective, either building a breakdown of how they spent their first two years building their venture, or sharing their story on the failures of sustainable investing to-date, or how the network economy has taken off.

And on interesting scientific thought pieces, may I suggest the following: 1) Coronavirus Variants Can’t Survive on Speed Forever (H/T Jonathan Friedlander & Geoffrey W. Smith), 2) What We Think We Know About Metabolism May Be Wrong (Daily energy expenditure through the human life course), and 3) Microbiota from young mice counteracts selective age-associated behavioral deficits.

Still looking for more?

Well, I know I'm a month late calling our MTV's 40th birthday - though hey, if Video Killed The Radio Star, then Internet Killed The Video Star, right?

Thank you for the past four years – Hamdi