By Blaine Friedlander for the Cornell Chronicle
As the pandemic pomp and COVID circumstances dissipate, Cornell’s business incubators officially graduated five startup companies – formally known as the Class of 2021 – on June 7 and helped to put them on the fleet highway to success.
Lou Walcer, director of the Kevin M. McGovern Family Center for Venture Development in the Life Sciences, and Robert Scharf, director of the Praxis Center for Venture Development, conferred certificates to the leadership of the freshly minted graduating groups: Ava Labs, Exotanium, Halomine, Sonder Research X and Zymtronix.
“Having incubators on campus is an important element of our innovation ecosystem. They take university discoveries and get them to have impact by turning them into products and by turning them into services from which society can benefit,” said Emmanuel Giannelis, vice president for research and innovation, in his keynote at the graduation ceremony.
Founded in 2008, the McGovern Center incubates Cornell life science startups, while the Praxis Center – which began in 2019 – focuses on developing and strengthening business plans for young engineering companies.
“Our incubators find ways to take these nascent technologies and early discoveries,” Giannelis said, “and nurture them through that very difficult path – which requires also the determination of entrepreneurs.
“I’m a passionate believer about the importance of Cornell not only being a top research university, but also to be a top innovation university,” he said, “since innovation is basically the other side of the same coin.”
The McGovern Center and the Praxis Center will graduate their Class of 2022 later this fall.
2021 graduating companies with faculty from the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science include:
Ava Labs, Inc. joined the Praxis Center in November 2019. Ava Labs is a blockchain platform developer that reduces the financial expenses related to deploying capital. Its blockchain provides higher transaction speed and simplifies trading of assets compared to older blockchain technology.
The company was founded by Emin Gün Sirer, CEO, a former Cornell associate professor of computer science, while founder Maofan “Ted” Yin, M.S. ’19, Ph.D ’21, is chief protocol architect; founder Kevin Sekniqi, M.S. ’18, is chief operating officer; and John Wu ’92 is the company president. Ava Labs products are based on research co-authored with Robbert van Renesse, professor of computer science in Cornell Bowers CIS.
Carrianne Fairbairn, executive assistant, accepted the certificate.
Exotanium, graduating from Praxis, develops cloud-resource optimization that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help other companies reduce spending – by as much as 90% – in the cloud.
Hakim Weatherspoon, professor of computer science in Cornell Bowers CIS, is the company CEO. He founded the company in 2018 with fellow Cornell researchers Zhiming Shen, Ph.D. ’17, the chief technology officer, and van Renesse, chief scientist.
The original story appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.