iLab at UVA Announces 22 Startups and New Program Innovations
We got to spend some time with the people from UVA’s iLab incubator at SXSW earlier this year. They have an innovative approach to nurturing startups and technology within the UVA system in Charlottesville Virginia. Late last year we reported on an innovative new startup that was connecting everyday people with celebrities and influencers and donating money to the celebrities favorite charity. 1degree incubated at iLab and spent sometime in Los Angeles working out the details of their app.
Last week, the iLab at UVA announced that this year’s incubator class includes 22 ventures and some innovative programming changes for their summer incubator program.
The W.L. Lyons Brown III i.Lab is a UVA-wide initiative that nurtures entrepreneurship throughout the University and Charlottesville community. The incubator program has been a key part of that mission, and it is continuing to expand its reach, with a 20 percent increase in applications this year and entrepreneurs including students and faculty from eight different schools across the University. Approximately one-third of the incoming class is comprised of ventures with no direct UVA affiliation.
The incubator began 1 June with a 10-week summer accelerator. Participants join a community of fellow entrepreneurs as they develop their business ideas. They also receive a $5,000 grant, office space, mentoring support, networking opportunities, and access to legal, accounting and technical expertise throughout the year.
This year, i.Lab Incubator Director Jason Brewster is incorporating effectuation as part of the program. The result of research findings by Darden Professor Saras Sarasvathy, effectuation is an accessible, flexible and powerful framework that articulates the method used by expert entrepreneurs to build highly successful ventures. Through pre-reading and guided workshops, the incoming incubator class is becoming steeped in the effectual method.
“As the ventures arrive with a common vocabulary, they hit the ground running and are well positioned for success,” said Brewster. “A common framework greatly accelerates their progress.”
In addition, the 2017 program includes sessions led by successful i.Lab Incubator graduates, including a field visit to Mad Hatter’s new bottling plant for a session on bootstrapping and a workshop on venture funding led by Relish, Foodio and Contraline.
Some of this year’s participating startups include:
- Stream Sense Medical, founded by Cheng Yang (Col ’17), Long Di (SEAS ’16), and Longze Chen (SEAS ’15), provides an innovative, at-home urine test device for long-term health monitoring. Andrew Nelson (MBA ’17) recently joined the founding team.
- The Kitchen Network, founded by community member Ian Pasquarelli, helps food business entrepreneurs overcome financial barriers by connecting them with commercial kitchen rentals in their community.
- Exemplum Studios, founded by Atthar Mirza (Arch ’17), Omar El-Sheikh (SEAS ’19), Connor Anderson (SEAS ’20), Collin Hansen (SEAS ’19), and Claire Poumerol (Col ’18), is using new technology to tell authentic stories and move people into action. The studio’s first project, Impossible Courage, uses virtual reality to tell the refugee story.
- Beanstalk Farming, founded by Jack Ross (SEAS ’17) and Michael Ross, is an agriculture technology company that develops scalable, automated and sustainable vertical farms. Beanstalk farms are entirely contained, require no pesticides, and dramatically reduce water usage while employing renewable power.
You can find out more about iLab here.