The team of Julia van Kessel, an associate professor in the Department of Biology, and Laura Brown, a senior lecturer in the Department of Chemistry, both of the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University Bloomington, was chosen as 1st-place winner of the inaugural IU Idea to Startup Pitch Competition.
The pitch competition, hosted by the Innovation and Commercialization Office, provided an opportunity for IU faculty, students, and staff to present their startup ideas while gaining feedback from a panel of experts.
"The commitment and enthusiasm of the participants and in particular their passion to make a meaningful contribution to society based on their work, was my favorite part about the competition." said Simran Trana, associate vice president of the IU Innovation and Commercialization Office. "We look forward to hosting future programs to assist IU innovators and entrepreneurs to mature their ideas into sustainable businesses."
The van Kessel and Brown team won the competition and $15,000 with their startup idea Quoronix. Their startup aims to prevent disease caused by pathogenic Vibrio bacteria. The team developed quorum sensing inhibitors as an alternative therapeutic strategy to treat bacterial infections. With the prize money, Quoronix will now have the resources to conduct in vivo pharmacokinetic studies and validate efficacy of PTSP, a non-antibiotic vibriosis drug, to secure NIH funding.
"This pitch competition was certainly different from any other presentation I've ever given," van Kessel said. "As academics by training, we are new to the entrepreneur world, but I loved the opportunity to showcase our invention and emphasize its importance to human health and disease treatments. We’re grateful for the award money that provides funds to Quoronix to help make the startup a reality."
Hanping Guan, director of entrepreneurship at the IU Innovation and Commercialization Office, who organized the inaugural IU Idea to Startup Pitch Competition, is now working with the winners of the competition to define next steps towards registering a legal entity for the startup, determining how to use the prize money to develop a prototype, and facilitating customer discovery to accelerate product development.