Skysong Innovations seeks ASU faculty startups for its 4th annual Startup Challenge

SkySong, The ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center building 1 exterior with shade structure

Skysong Innovations is based at the ASU, Scottsdale Innovation Center in south Scottsdale.


Up to $50,000 in seed investments is available for faculty who recently started a company to commercialize Arizona State University-owned inventions during the fourth annual Skysong Innovations Startup Challenge.

The annual pitch event is accepting applications through Aug. 31. Up to six finalists will be selected following a pitch event in November to receive $25,000 in convertible notes. The winner will receive an additional $25,000.

“This exciting annual event showcases the cutting-edge technologies being developed within ASU labs and commercialized through job-creating ASU startups,” said Charlie Lewis, vice president of venture development and physical sciences at Skysong Innovations. “The Startup Challenge utilizes outside venture capitalists and entrepreneurs to select the companies most worthy of investment amongst a highly competitive pool of applicants.”

To participate in the competition, the company must have signed a license agreement or option agreement with pre-negotiated license terms with Skysong Innovations between July 1, 2021, and Aug. 31, 2022. Skysong Innovations is ASU’s specialized technology commercialization organization. It helps translate research into real-world impact by protecting innovative technologies developed in ASU labs and negotiating licensing deals with commercial partners. Those commercial partners, which range from new companies spun out of ASU to large Fortune 100 enterprises, then advance such technologies into product development with the goal of bringing new solutions to the marketplace.

The 2021 Startup Challenge grand-prize winner was GenexGen Inc., which was co-founded by Samira Kiani and won $50,000. The company, selected by a panel of judges out of 12 entries, develops epigenetic-based immunosuppressants that supercharge other gene therapies and help to combat cancer and autoimmune diseases. Kiani was formerly an assistant professor in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering at ASU.

"The Skysong Innovations challenge win was a great boost to our fledgling company at a time that we needed it the most,” Kiani said. “It brought in further validation, as well as resources to enable the company to push the operation and R&D forward. We are very grateful for this opportunity."

The following companies were finalists in the 2021 competition, and each received a $25,000 convertible note. 

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