Illinois Tech Armour College of Engineering and Stuart School of Business Students Among Winning Nanotechnology Startup Challenge in Cancer Teams

An interdisciplinary student team from Illinois Institute of Technology was one of 10 winning teams who will launch start-ups through the Nano Startup Challenge in Cancer (NSC2). The Center for Advancing Innovation (CAI) and the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute partnered to launch the competition with the goal to bring near-term, commercially viable cancer nanotechnology inventions to market. More than 278 students and entrepreneurs in 28 teams have competed in the challenge that was launched in October 2015.

NSC2 teams sought to commercialize seven inventions that were conceived and developed at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Illinois Tech team worked to bring a neuroscience therapeutic platform technology designed to treat cancer into realization under the company name Latona Therapeutics.

The winning teams were selected based on their business plans, financial models, and live pitches. During the final phase of the competition, the Illinois Tech team will be mentored on launching their startup, incorporating their business, licensing their technology, forming a management team, and raising seed money from investors.

Throughout the challenge, teams participated in CAI’s accelerator training. Students learned from leading experts from the biotechnology industry, venture capital, universities, foundations, and government. Training focused on topics including commercialization planning, research and development planning, intellectual property, regulatory strategy, and financial modeling.

Illinois Tech team members include Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. students Yusheng He, Michael (Wenqiang) Liu, Daniel Young; Biomedical Engineering Masters students Shreya Chitnis and Nilanjan Mukherjee; recent graduate Aakanksha Rangnekar (M.S. BME ‘16); and MBA students Rahul Ainapur and Egzon Berisha.

Raja Krishnan, a technology commercialization consultant, is advising the Illinois Tech team.