IllinoisVENTURES Announces First Regional Proof of Concept Matching Fund Awards
Jan 13, 2015

Chicago, IL. -- IllinoisVENTURES today announced the first awardees for the Regional Proof of Concept Matching Fund Program, totaling $125,000 in grants to five projects at three Illinois universities.  The fund, supported by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition, provides a platform for highlighting and advancing the most promising innovations coming out of research institutions in Illinois. 


The program was launched in October 2014 with a network of institutions that includes Argonne National Laboratory, Illinois Institute of Technology, Northern Illinois University, Northwestern University, Southern Illinois University, University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Through a competitive grant process, this initiative amplifies the efforts of these research institutions to accelerate the commercialization of new technologies, providing 2:1 matching funding to help them achieve important commercial milestones. 


"lllinois’ world-class research institutions are the greatest drivers of innovation and economic development in the state.   The Illinois Science & Technology Coalition is proud to be a founding partner of the Regional Proof of Concept Matching Fund Program, which is helping to accelerate the commercialization of top technologies that have the potential to drive competitiveness in key industries across the state," said ISTC President & CEO Mark Harris 


Proof of concept funding provides a bridge between basic scientific research and marketplace entry and helps to "de-risk" a technology and increase its potential for commercialization. The program will help spur translation of the research conducted at Illinois’ universities and federal labs into the market to make an impact on the state’s economy.  The selection committee for the program is made up of industry experts and venture capitalists from Illinois and across the country, exposing university innovations to new audiences and improving the connections between university innovation and corporations and venture capitalists across the state and country.  


"The IllinoisVENTURES Regional Proof of Concept Matching Fund Program offers companies like Takeda unprecedented early access to research discoveries across Illinois’ universities and national labs.  By providing industry feedback early in the product development process, this program will help generate more market-ready technologies with greater potential to incorporate directly into corporate R&D pipelines" said Azmi Nabulsi, Head of R&D Strategic and Professional Affairs, Takeda Pharmaceuticals International, Inc.





Funding will be awarded twice per year, with 4 institutions submitting applications in the first cycle. The initial award winners are:


Alexander Langerman, MD (University of Chicago)

A first-of-its-kind web-based mobile application, ExplORer, which provides a surgical “playbook” for the operating room that displays pertinent information for each team member for each step of the surgical case – from preparation to incision to close and cleanup


Jonathan Leis, PhD (Northwestern)

Small molecule inhibitors that block replication of pathogenic enveloped virus infections including HIV, Herpes, and Ebola 


William Klein, PhD (Northwestern)

A new imaging technology that can detect Alzheimer’s Disease at a very early stage of development by pairing a molecular nanostructure with an antibody designed to target amyloid beta oligomers


Peter O’Donnell, MD (University of Chicago)

A new tool, the Genomic Prescribing System, that allows health care providers to quickly zero-in on the best medication for each patient by harnessing the patient’s unique genetic profile and drug-efficacy studies to provide physicians specific, actionable and beneficial personalized drug prescription guidance


Bellur Prabhakar, PhD (University of Illinois at Chicago)

A novel treatment for Type 1 diabetes based on the induction of human regulatory T cells using a recombinant human OX40L/Jag-1 chimeric protein


“IllinoisVENTURES is excited to be partnering with the State, ISTC, and research institutions across Illinois to help catalyze new ventures from the world-class research occurring in the universities and federal labs across the state” said Nancy Sullivan, CEO and Managing Director at IllinoisVENTURES.  “It takes an enormous amount of time and money to commercialize laboratory research and this program helps identify technologies with the highest potential for success and provides additional funding to accelerate commercialization. We are excited to announce these initial award winners and look forward to continuing to grow the Regional Proof of Concept Matching Fund Program.”


About IllinoisVENTURES

llinoisVENTURES is a premier seed and early-stage technology investment firm focused on research-derived companies in life science, physical sciences, and information technologies. IllinoisVENTURES starts and builds globally-competitive businesses based on work conducted at Midwest Universities and federal laboratories by bringing together leading researchers and entrepreneurs to mold concepts, vision, intellectual property, sweat and passion into breakthrough, high-growth companies. Conceived and launched by the University of Illinois, IllinoisVENTURES has been consistently named by Entrepreneur magazine to its national list of the top 100 venture capital firms. Learn more at


Jeremy Hollis (Visiting Director, Regional POC Program)

Phone: 312-996-9713