Activate Introduces Cohort 2021 Fellows: Two Dozen Science Entrepreneurs Launching Hard Science Ventures

Entrepreneurs / 7th June 2021

Activate Global Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers scientists to reinvent the world by bringing their research to market, is proud to introduce the 2021 cohort of Activate Fellows. These 24 scientists are launching what promise to be hugely consequential businesses across key industries that could speed society’s response to climate change and other urgent societal needs.

“The number of world-class scientists vying for these limited fellowship slots grows every year,” says Activate CEO Ilan Gur. “That we attracted this level of talent during a year of such uncertainty speaks both to these fellows’ drive for impact and the critical need for organizations like Activate that empower scientists to turn their research into new products and businesses that will improve our world.”

The 24 fellows, selected from a pipeline that included nearly 400 applicants from 30 countries and 32 U.S. states, bring a wealth of scientific talent and ambition. While many are joining directly from academia, others have years of industry experience. All are driven to turn their innovations—in everything from quantum computing and robotics to bio-based materials, ag-tech, and carbon-free energy systems—into much-needed products and services, with speed and at scale.

Activate’s 2021 Fellows and their startups:

David Mackanic

Anthro Energy is pioneering flexible batteries that are safe and tough enough to put in watch straps and aircraft walls.

Jungah Lee

Aura Intelligence Systems is developing a disruptive 4D imaging radar for challenging autonomous mobility and Industry 4.0 applications.

Shannon Nangle & Marika Ziesack

Circe Bioscience uses engineered microbes that consume CO2 to produce fats—a key to flavor, texture, and nutrition in foods—through a versatile fermentation platform.

Andrew Stern

Coremeleon is leveraging hardware-centric protection mechanisms to combat IP theft and ensure the safety of critical electronics systems and infrastructure.

Joey Kabel & Daniel Stack

Electrified Thermal Solutions wants to decarbonize industrial processes with a low-cost thermal energy system that efficiently stores renewable electricity as high-temperature heat.

Jae Cho

Enertia Microsystems is commercializing a fused silica gyroscope that matches the state-of-the-art gyroscopes’ performance at one-hundredth the cost and size.

Kezi Cheng & Pete Christensen

FLO Materials is commercializing a new class of infinitely recyclable polymers to enable the transition to a more circular economy.

Antonio Baclig

Inlyte Energy‘s battery made from iron and table salt could be a gamechanger for affordable storage of renewables on the grid.

Aaron Hall

Intropic Materials is developing high-performance plastics that last exactly as long as they are needed.

Floris Engelhardt

Kano Therapeutics‘ biotechnological production platform seeks to revolutionize gene delivery and vaccine constructs for pharmaceutical and synthetic biology companies.

Cameron Hill

LintrinsIC is making high-performance RF switches using a cost-effective CMOS process to enable reconfigurable radio architectures.

Ben Jenett

Metavoxel Technologies‘ scalable, low-cost manufacturing process makes materials with controllable properties, enabling lightweight, adaptive structures and systems that do more with less.

Jimmy Rojas

Origen Hydrogen is enabling cost-competitive green hydrogen with its low-CAPEX electrolyzer hardware technology.

Francesco M. Benedetti & Holden Lai

Osmoses molecular filters have unprecedented productivity and size selectivity, enabling drastic reductions in costs and carbon emissions for industrial separations.

Fatma Kaplan & Karl Cameron Schiller

Pheronym is an agricultural biotechnology company developing nontoxic solutions for pest management through innovative pheromone applications.

Brendan Hermalyn

Pythagorean Applied Research wants to transform how we perceive the world with cutting-edge sensing and perception technologies.

Mael Flament

Qunnect builds hardware to transform telecommunications infrastructure into scalable quantum networks.

Sam Green & Ahmet Ozcan

Semiotic AI‘s mission is to build a secure negotiation protocol to automate trading in decentralized markets.

Founded in 2015, the two-year Activate Fellowship is a proven path for science entrepreneurs to move their breakthrough research into the market. It provides fellows the time, resources, and guidance to develop as leaders and mature their ideas as they start their entrepreneurial journeys. Unlike startup accelerators, the Activate Fellowship takes no equity stake in fellows’ companies.

More than 80 percent of Activate Fellows graduate with at least 12 months of financial runway to build their businesses. Current and alumni fellows have leveraged $26 million in fellowship support to raise nearly $330 million in additional research funding and initial private investments—dollar-for-dollar leverage of more than 12x.

Cohort 2021 brings the total community of fellows supported since 2015 to 104. These leaders have created more than 300 jobs and are currently hiring for more than 80 positions across 72 active, mission-driven companies. These firms are introducing products focused on decarbonizing heavy industry, building circular value chains through innovative materials (including truly compostable plastics and infinitely recyclable polymers), creating renewable, resilient energy and food infrastructures, and opening new frontiers in sensors, computing, and autonomous networks.

Activate Fellows work across eight industries: Agriculture, buildings, chemical, computing, defense, electricity, manufacturing, and transportation.

In just the last few months, two alumni-led startups reached major milestones: lithium-metal battery leader Cuberg (Richard Wang, Cohort 2017) became part of emerging European battery giant Northvolt, and advanced geothermal energy developer Fervo Energy (Tim Latimer and Jack Norbeck, Cohort 2018) raised $28M Series B financing and partnered with Google to supply Google’s Nevada data centers with 24/7 clean energy.

Activate’s sponsors and partners make the fellowship possible through direct funding, donations of time, money, equipment, or services. Without this dedicated and forward-thinking network, Activate could not provide fellows such comprehensive financial, community, technical, and career support.

Each fellowship is offered in partnership with a world-class host laboratory and supported by dedicated local teams in Berkeley, CA, and Boston, MA. By 2025, Activate plans to have eight U.S. locations, welcoming 100 new fellows each year.

At Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Cyclotron Road Division, Activate’s founding partner, has hosted and provided vital laboratory access to 76 fellows and connected them with more than 70 Berkeley Lab collaborators.

MIT Lincoln Laboratory, anchor partner for Activate Boston, has been an important resource to 2020 fellows developing advanced computing products and will continue that key role for four 2021 fellows.

The US Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office has been a steadfast partner since the fellowship’s inception. DARPA is also a major partner, having funded fellowships since 2018. This year Activate is happy to welcome the DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office as a new government funding partner.

Since 2016, the California Energy Commission has provided fellows with vital support—through fellowship funding as well as direct investments—while also supporting Activate’s operations. Likewise, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is a long-time supporter and one of Activate’s many philanthropic sponsors that provide crucial fellowship funding.

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