The 8th annual Innovation Celebration was held at the Beckman Institute located at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The event was hosted by Champaign County Economic Development Corporation and the University of Illinois, and was sponsored by several local companies, including Serra Ventures.
Laura Frerichs, Director of the UIUC Research Park, was emcee. Chancellor Phyllis Wise presented a keynote address as did Lori Gold Patterson, CEO of Pixo.
Sanjay Patel, Nuvixa, Inc., was the winner of the New Venture Award. Patel stated “Nuvixa, Inc. is blazing a trail in the technology start-up ecosystem in Champaign-Urbana. This is no accident. It is a deliberate attempt of executing on a grand vision by the early founding team of Nuvixa.” Nuvixa is a Serra Capital portfolio company.
David Kranz, ImmuVen, Inc., was the recipient of the Technology Transfer Award. In the program it was noted that “As co-founder of both ImmuVen founded in 2008 and Biodisplay founded in 1999 (which was later sold to Abbott), Dave has demonstrated his entrepreneurial vision and capability.” ImmuVen is a Serra Capital portfolio company.
Yi Lu, ANDalyze, Inc., was the winner of the Innovation Discovery Award. Lu’s many accomplishments were noted in the program: “A renowned faculty entrepreneur, Yi Lu has had commercialization success with his DNAzymes for detecting heavy metals in environmental water supplies, licensed to ANDalyze, a company he cofounded. His new discovery is that DNA can be engineered to test for organic compounds such as glucose in blood and other organic markers in biological samples. Yi Lu has 41 invention disclosures, 25 filed and 14 issued patents.” ANDalyze is a Serra Capital portfolio company.
Scott Daigle & Marissa Siebel, IntelliWheels, Inc., were the winners of the Social Entrepreneurship Award. Noted in the program was that “Scott and Marissa are intelligent, motivated and passionate about their company, IntelliWheels. While growing their company to a profitable business is their goal, they have embarked on that mission with compassion and the hope that they are truly addressing a need that will help a group of people who are frequently overlooked.” IntelliWheels is a consulting client of Serra Ventures and is under review for investment by Serra Capital.
James Langer, Serionix, Inc., was the winner of the Student Start-up Award. Notes from program stated that “Jim is one of those high energy, do-it-all kind of people whose determination and drive is something that should be awarded. While finishing his Ph.D. and raising a family, he manages to keep the momentum for moving Serionix forward.” Serionix is a consulting client of Serra Ventures and is under review for investment by Serra Capital.
Liz Kellner was the winner of the Entrepreneur Advocacy Award. Notes about Kellner in the program stated “Throughout the years and in her various positions, Ms. Kellner has been fostering entrepreneurship in our community. She has been pivotal in growing the synergy that is making Champaign-Urbana a high-tech community.” Liz and her firm Singleton Law have been instrumental in assisting Serra Ventures and Serra Capital with a variety of legal matters.
Other finalists with ties to Serra Ventures included Oso Simple Technologies, Inc., with Eduardo Torrealba, CEO, being finalist in the Student Start-up Award category. Oso is a consulting client of Serra Ventures and a portfolio company of Serra Capital. Also a finalist was Gabriel Popescu, in the Innovation Discovery Award category. Dr. Popescu’s new company, Phi Optics, is a consulting client of Serra Ventures and is under review for investment by Serra Capital. A third finalist was Effimax Solar, Inc., in the Student Start-Up Award category. Rui Cai is the CEO, and Effimax Solar is a consulting client of Serra Ventures.