Startups share $400K in backing from Spectrum 28 fund

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Three companies aiming to do big things in the medical technology, insurance and automotive industries are the first to receive funding through a program for promising startup ventures at the University of Waterloo.

Elucid Labs, Knote and Acerta Systems Analytics will share $400,000 provided through the Spectrum 28 Mentor & Venture Program, a partnership between venture capitalist Lyon Wong and Waterloo Engineering.

Wong, who graduated from Waterloo with a degree in systems design engineering in 2003, is a co-founder and general partner of Spectrum 28, a US $170-million venture capital fund based in Silicon Valley.

He announced financial backing for the three startups this week after months of mentoring and scrutiny. Dozens of other startups have also benefited from guidance since the program began last spring.

“There is potential here for great companies,” Wong said, citing the resilience and technical abilities of engineers from Waterloo.

Elucid grew out of PhD research by Farnoud Kazemzadeh. His co-founders are Alexander Wong, a systems design engineering professor, and Iman Khodadad, who also earned a doctorate at Waterloo.

It has developed a small imaging device for early detection of skin cancer without biopsies, revealing telltale signs before they can be seen by doctors during visual inspections.

Knote goes back to an algorithm founder Ron Glozman wrote to summarize textbooks while he was cramming for exams as a computer science undergraduate more than two years ago.

It has since pivoted to automate the search for errors in insurance policies using a branch of artificial intelligence called natural language processing.

Acerta was founded by Greta Cutulenco, who earned undergraduate and master’s degrees at Waterloo, PhD student Jean-Christophe Petkovich and Sebastian Fischmeister, an electrical and computer engineering professor.

It developed a cloud-based platform to analyze data from new vehicles as they come off the assembly line to identify possible defects, avoiding extremely costly recalls down the road.

In addition to financial support for startups that show potential and growth, honest, ongoing advice and guidance are central to Wong’s approach. Work with the next cohort of early stage entrepreneurs at Waterloo is scheduled to begin in June.


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