Organ Transport Startup Wins First Place at 10th Anniversary Finals of UChicago’s College New Venture Challenge

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#accelerator–The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is pleased to announce the winners of the 10th Annual College New Venture Challenge (CNVC), which awarded $150,000 in investment to a diverse slate of startups helmed by undergraduates.

First place went to OrganX Scientific, which is developing a next-generation preservation system for transporting organs so as to improve transplant outcomes and expand the donor pool. Led by third-year College student George Li, who cofounded the startup with UChicago Medicine researcher Daniel Rodgers, OrganX received $60,000 in investment.

Second place was a tie between Haylon Technologies and StandOut Search, each of which received $30,000 in investment.

Haylon Technologies prolongs battery life through a system that can intelligently switch between different energy sources to accomplish different tasks. StandOut Search is a platform that matches high-school students with internships at startups. Both second-place finishers are helmed by undergrads from UChicago as well as University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).

“Every year I am wowed by the sophistication of our College teams and their ambitious innovations,” said Starr Marcello, AM ’04, MBA ’17, deputy dean for MBA programs at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and professor of the CNVC. “Particularly impressive this year was the breadth of ideas, which range from consumer-facing ventures in male cosmetics and marijuana edibles to potentially trailblazing advances in sustainable development and medicine. All of the teams have bright futures ahead of them.”

The CNVC, launched in 2012, is one of five tracks of the New Venture Challenge, a pioneering startup accelerator founded 26 years ago at the University of Chicago’s business school.

The program, which consists of a credit-bearing course at Chicago Booth that culminates in a venture launch competition, is open to returning UChicago undergraduate students as well as students in the entrepreneurship track of the City Scholars program at UIUC.

At Thursday’s CNVC finals, the seven finalist teams presented their business plans to a judging panel composed of investors, entrepreneurs, alumni, and faculty.

Each of the seven finalist teams received investment. They are:

First Place – $60,000

OrganX Scientific // OrganX Scientific is creating innovative organ preservation devices that increase the donor pool and improve patient outcomes.

Second Place (tie) – $30,000 each

Haylon Technologies // Haylon Technologies enables batteries with significantly higher battery life through a system that can intelligently switch between different energy sources to accomplish different tasks. (Team includes UIUC and UChicago students).

StandOut Search // StandOut Search is a double-sided platform that matches high school students with internships at startups. (Team includes UChicago and UIUC students).

Third Place (tie) – $10,000 each

Natuur Brands // Natuur Brands has created the Natuur Bite, a healthy marijuana edible. Each bite contains almonds, dates, and granola, in addition to 5 mg of cutting-edge, fast-acting THC.

Tiimu // Tiimu aims to invigorate sustainable development by pioneering a distribution strategy to deliver sustainable cooking and energy solutions to rural Ugandans, financed by selling the carbon emissions reductions as credits to companies.

Fourth Place (tie) – $5,000 each

Baryl // Baryl plans hyper-personalized trips within minutes. Its AI engine helps travelers discover the best things to eat and do based on their travel personalities.

ZERO for Men // ZERO for Men is a self-care brand for the modern male who wants to feel confident and look his best. Products include the ZERO Stick, a concealer to cover pimples, acne, dark circles and other blemishes instantly.

The NVC has a track record of nurturing successful companies, including Braintree, Simple Mills, Foxtrot, Tovala, and Grubhub. Its alumni include more than 370 still-active companies that have raised more than $1.2 billion in investment and achieved some $8.5 billion in mergers and exits.

Alumni of the college accelerator include success stories such as Cubii, Sokowatch, MoneyThink, Quevos, and Fronen.

Li, OrganX’s CEO, hopes to add his startup to the list.

“We’re amazed and humbled for this support from UChicago,” Li said. “This is without a doubt the most interesting project of my life, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to take OrganX to the next level.”


Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz,

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