Space Technology in Your Livingroom

On October 18, NASA passed a major milestone with the All Woman Spacewalk at the International Space Station. During the 7-hour, 17-minute spacewalk, astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir replaced a failed power controller and completed other tasks for future spacewalks. While astronauts like Koch and Meir are working on complicated, detailed tasks 200 miles above the earth, it’s important to make sure that the air they’re breathing is clean and safe. Serionix, an Illinois Ventures portfolio company, is working with NASA to create products that filter vehicle and spacesuit air, keeping astronauts safe and healthy.

Serionix creates high-performance filters based on a proprietary adsorptive coating technology called Colorfil™, which changes colors as it removes toxic chemicals and odors from the air while killing viruses, bacteria, and mold. Through an intuitive, vibrant color change, Colorfil™ lets users know when the filters are working and when they aren’t. The same NASA-backed research on new spacesuit technology could also improve air quality in the homes of pet owners, as well as keep cars smelling fresh and filter contaminants out of the air in microchip manufacturing facilities. 

To learn more about Serionix’s work with NASA, click here.

Tiesta Tea Co-Founders Spill the Tea on ‘Living Loose’ in U.S. Chamber of Commerce Article

In an article published by U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Tiesta Tea founders Dan Klein and Patrick Tannous discussed growth in the beverage industry, the struggles of starting a company while in college, and the company’s motto of “Live Loose” playing out in their product as well as their team culture. Tiesta Tea has been the fastest growing tea company in the United States since 2014 and currently distributes in 8,000 stores nationwide.

 To read the full article, click here. To learn more about Tiesta Tea, click here.

Illinois Ventures Named a Top VC Firm Shaping the Future of Chicago Tech

Illinois Ventures is listed in Dare Mighty Things’ list of venture capital firms shaping the future of Chicago Tech. The article notes Illinois Ventures’ prominence in IT, physical sciences, and life sciences as well as the firm’s relationship with top-tier University innovators.

To read more about Illinois Ventures and some of the top tech venture capital firms in Chicago, click here.

UIUC Grads Ranked Among Highest Funded Founders

Joanna Glasner at Crunchbase Daily reported on the number of which U.S. public universities graduate the most funded founders. With 63 startup founders raising $1M or more after 5/1/18, the University of Illinois at Urbana Champagne ranks fourth in the country among public schools.

“A lot of students attend public universities to lessen the financial burden of higher education. At last tally, tuition and fees at American public colleges and universities averaged around $6,800 a year, per the federal government. That’s far below the $32,600 mean price tag for private, nonprofit institutions,” Glasner noted

“Yet when it comes to public universities, the old adage “you get what you pay for” clearly does not apply. Leading public research universities in particular have a track record of turning out enviably knowledgeable and successful graduates. That includes a whole lot of funded startup founders.”

For the full article, click here.

Carle Illinois College of Medicine Wraps Up First Year of Program


WCIA reported on the first year of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, the world’s first engineering-based program that is redefining medical education by combining basic sciences, clinical sciences, engineering, and medical humanities into medical education. More than 1,000 people applied to be part of the inaugural group of 32 students, and more than 2,300 have applied to be in the next year’s class.

To read more on the inaugural class, and to watch an interview with a Carle Illinois College of Medicine student, click here.

Actuate Therapeutics Closes $21.7M Series B Financing

Illinois Ventures portfolio company, Actuate Therapeutics, Inc., raised $21.7M in a Series B financing round that will fund the expansion of the company’s ongoing Phase I/II 1801 clinical trial and development programs. Actuate is a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company, focused on the development and commercialization of novel therapeutic agents for patients with cancer or inflammatory diseases.

“We are quickly advancing the 1801 clinical trial of 9-ING-41 in adult cancer patients in the U.S. The financing allows us to expand the 1801 clinical trial out to our world-leading oncology research institution network in the U.S. and Europe, to initiate Investigator Initiated Trials being developed with our physician/scientist collaborators, and to advance our pediatric neuroblastoma program” noted Daniel Schmitt, President and CEO of Actuate in a press release issued by Cision.

To learn more about Actuate, click here.

Reconstruct Secures $7.7M in Series A Raise

Illinois Ventures portfolio company Reconstruct announced a $7.7M Series A investment led by Cultivation Capital, a family of venture funds and accelerators. Reconstruct provides a visual production management platform for construction projects. Using images captured with drones or ground cameras, integrated with building information models, it provides project teams with easy and quick access to actionable construction performance analytics with an online interface that is accessible through commodity smartphones and tablets. The platform detects and communicate performance problems and offers insight on potential delays so that project teams can prevent delays before they surface on job sites.

The investment will allow the company to expedite growth while extending its lead in computer vision and machine learning and opening offices in Texas, Chicago, NYC, and Tokyo.  The full press release, published by Business Wire, can be read here.

Mesh++ Founder Named in Crain’s 20 In Their 20s

Crain’s Chicago Business honored Mesh++ founder, Danny Gardner, in its’ 20 In Their 20s list. Mesh++ creates solar-powered outdoor mesh networks to provide high-speed internet connectivity for parks and public spaces, outdoor events, construction sites and in rural or remote areas that lack infrastructure. Gardner started the tech company during his time at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his team won the 2017 Paul Magelli Innovation Prize.

To learn more about Mesh++ and to read Gardner’s Crain’s profile, click here.

Illinois Ventures Invests in Sense Photonics’ $26M Series A Round

Sense Photonics, a LiDAR company utilizing University of Illinois technologies, successfully raised $26M Series A Round. The funding will enable the company to continue the creation and scaling of their state-of-the-art technology. LiDAR technology allows robots and autonomous vehicles to safely navigate their environments using the time of flight property of light to create 3D models. Sense Photonics is developing a next-generation solid-state flash LiDAR with the range, resolution, field of view, and reliability that is critical for autonomous driving and robotics systems.

Sense Photonics’ core technology – protected by over 200 patents – enables a simple, high-performance, solid-state solution, with no moving parts, that can uniquely meet the rigorous performance, reliability and cost requirements for automotive and industrial applications. Using this advanced technology, Sense Photonics is on the forefront of flash LiDAR systems. Their unique system uses patented technology from the University of Illinois to enable the development of the solution at scale.

While several companies are working on advanced LiDAR systems, few have managed to implement flash LiDAR, which illuminates a whole landscape rather than small portions at a time, noted a TechCrunch article on the Sense Photonics technology. Combined with novel flexible hardware allowing a curved array, the system facilitates a more robust view of the surroundings.

Founder and CEO Scott Burroughs, a University of Illinois alumnus, oversees a world-class team across the U.S. and the U.K. Backed by leading VC firms and strategic investors such as Samsung Ventures and Shell and partnered with leading automotive and robotics customers, Sense Photonics has quickly garnered attention in the industry.

To learn more about Sense Photonics, click here.

EarthSense Completes $1M SAFE Round

Illinois Ventures portfolio company EarthSense, an early-stage agricultural robotics and software company, successfully raised a $1M SAFE Round. They will combine the capital with additional grant funding to continue developing and assembling their product, TerraSentia. TerraSentia is a compact, autonomous/semi-autonomous robot for use in agronomic data collection, field scouting, and additional services for growers, agronomists, and seed breeders.

Click here to learn more about Earth Sense’s exciting technology.

Reconstruct Named to Crunchbase “Top 50 Hot Tech Companies Globally” List

Crunchbase noted Illinois Ventures’ portfolio company Reconstruct in its list of the hottest 50 tech companies across the globe. Reconstruct’s platform provides analytics to construction managers including current, past, and future performance issues in 3D and productivity over the project’s timeline. To qualify for the list, companies must have raised between $10 and $30 million in the last six months and not have exited via IPO or acquisition.

Reconstruct’s CEO, Mani Golparvar and CTO, Derek Hoiem, co-founders of the company, are both faculty members at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as is Director of Field Operations, Douglas Schmoe.  Illinois Ventures has invested in Reconstruct’s Seed and Series A financings.

To learn more about Reconstruct, click here. To read the full Crunchbase article, click here.

REVOLUTION Medicines Closes $100 Million Financing to Advance Pipeline of Novel Therapies

Illinois Ventures portfolio company REVOLUTIONS Medicines announced the close of a $100M C round to continue their work in novel therapies addressing frontier targets in RAS-dependent cancers. REVOLUTION Medicines is a leader in the discovery and development of precise small molecule therapeutics designed to translate frontier oncology targets within notorious pathways to outsmart cancer. Proceeds will support the continued advancement of the company’s pipeline, which includes programs addressing elusive targets within the RAS pathway such as KRASG12C(GTP) and other specific tumorigenic mutants of RAS.

“Our position at the forefront of RAS pathway-focused therapeutics development is powered by a deep commitment to RAS pathway biology and our differentiated drug discovery capabilities,” noted REVOLUTION Medicines president and CEO, Mark Goldsmith. “Our innovation engine enables the creation of sophisticated drug candidates that inhibit protein targets that defy conventional drug discovery methods, which we believe will bring the promise of targeted therapy to inadequately served cancer patients.”

To learn more about REVOLUTION Medicines, click here.

Illinois Ventures Invests in Inventables’ $11.5M Series C Round

On July 23 Inventables announced a $11.5M Series C round to continue working on Easel, the company’s web-based design platform to make the platform compatible with more machines. The round brings Inventables total funding up to $21M.

Inventables is a 3D carving company offering intuitive software and an easy-to-use carving machine, and unique carving materials. Easel, their design platform, is the most accessible and user-friendly design software on the market. Paired with their affordable 3D carving machine, X-Carve, makers of all abilities can produce their first project in minutes. Inventable’s products can be used to create projects like signs, guitars, furniture, drones, and jewelry, along with prototypes for larger projects. 

“We are excited to see thousands of American businesses using our products for production,” CEO and founder Zach Kaplan said in the company’s press release. Kaplan is a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign alumnus. “This investment enables Inventables to enhance the functionality and compatibility of our Easel software, helping our business customers produce products faster and more profitably,” he noted. 

To read the full press release, click here. To learn more about Inventables, click here.

PhotoniCare CEO Discusses the TOMi Scope and the Future of Diagnostic Tools

While middle ear infections are highly common among children, they’re often difficult to diagnose due to their location and symptoms. To learn more, Medgadget’s Cici Zhou interviewed PhotoniCare’s Co-founder and CEO Ryan Shelton, Ph.D. about the company’s technology and future. 

PhotoniCare, an Illinois Ventures portfolio company, created the TOMi Scope, a handheld device that uses near-infrared light waves to provide 3D views beyond the eardrum into the middle ear. This allows pediatricians to better visualize and diagnose infections.

“We are incredibly excited about the next 5 years,” Shelton noted in the interview. “We have shown the ability to image the eye, skin, teeth, and oral mucosa in addition to the ear, so we are incredibly excited about the future as we grow our platform and make an enormous impact on efficiency and outcomes at the front lines of medicine.”

To learn more about PhotoniCare, click here. To read the full interview with Ryan Shelton, click here

Nancy Sullivan to Speak on BIO Start-Up Stadium Panel

On July 9, Illinois Ventures CEO and Managing Director Nancy Sullivan will join a panel at The Start-Up Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa. The discussion will focus on investment in rural America and how innovators can attract entrepreneurs and capital outside of prominent investment hubs.

The panel is part of the 2019 BIO World Congress, a convention that provides visibility to early-stage and emerging companies. BIO is the world’s largest trade association representing biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations.

Nancy leads the Illinois Ventures investment portfolio. She oversees $70 million+ in assets under management and is responsible for overall fund operations.

To learn more, click here.

Illinois Ventures Invests in Sense Photonics’ $26M Series A Round

Sense Photonics, a LiDAR company utilizing University of Illinois technologies, successfully raised $26M Series A Round. The funding will enable the company to continue the creation and scaling of their state-of-the-art technology. LiDAR technology allows robots and autonomous vehicles to safely navigate their environments using the time of flight property of light to create 3D models. Sense Photonics is developing a next-generation solid-state flash LiDAR with the range, resolution, field of view, and reliability that is critical for autonomous driving and robotics systems.

Sense Photonics’ core technology – protected by over 200 patents – enables a simple, high-performance, solid-state solution, with no moving parts, that can uniquely meet the rigorous performance, reliability and cost requirements for automotive and industrial applications. Using this advanced technology, Sense Photonics is on the forefront of flash LiDAR systems. Their unique system uses patented technology from the University of Illinois to enable the development of the solution at scale.

While several companies are working on advanced LiDAR systems, few have managed to implement flash LiDAR, which illuminates a whole landscape rather than small portions at a time, noted a TechCrunch article on the Sense Photonics technology. Combined with novel flexible hardware allowing a curved array, the system facilitates a more robust view of the surroundings.

Founder and CEO Scott Burroughs, a University of Illinois alumnus, oversees a world-class team across the U.S. and the U.K. Backed by leading VC firms and strategic investors such as Samsung Ventures and Shell and partnered with leading automotive and robotics customers, Sense Photonics has quickly garnered attention in the industry.

To learn more about Sense Photonics, click here.