Birmingham-Based Startup Raises $1M Seed Round to Improve University Access to Corporate-Sponsored Research Funding

Entrepreneurs / 3rd June 2022

Astound, a Birmingham-based startup, has successfully secured $1m in seed funding to develop the first marketplace to allow research institutions and universities to easily find corporate sponsors for important scientific research. Astound CEO and founder Dr. Joel Berry is a biomedical engineer with thirty years of experience in life sciences and bioengineering product development.  Astound received its $1m in funding from Nashville-based Mark Two Ventures, a venture studio which provides startups with seed-stage capital in addition to product development, software engineering, and design expertise.

Astound explains that it is developing a platform to help match university research expertise to corporate R&D needs across a broad spectrum of disciplines, from life sciences and engineering to computer science and agriculture.  The Astound platform represents the first product of its kind and is focused on accelerating research and development collaborations between industry and academia.

“Corporate spending on sponsored university research is approximately $80B globally and over $40B annually in the US alone” according to Dr. Berry. “Astound will provide a platform that makes it easy and fast for companies to find and sponsor research relevant to their product development goals. Ultimately, our mission is to be a catalyst for advancing science and technology.”

Dr. Berry explains that these sorts of corporate-university collaborations are mutually beneficial. “Corporate sponsorships provide critical funding for scientific research. In exchange, those corporate partners have the opportunity to commercialize the resulting patents and other valuable intellectual property.” Bill Dean, Executive Director of Auburn University’s Research & Technology Foundation and one of Astound’s early supporters states “A tool that could provide real-time, actionable insights into what problems industry has and what they are looking for in terms of R&D support would be tremendously valuable to us.” That’s exactly what Astound says it hopes to provide to universities and other research institutions.

“It is rare to find such a large and important market that is still completely analog,” said Glenn Clayton, a Managing Partner and co-founder of Mark Two Ventures. “We were inspired by Dr. Berry’s mission to accelerate scientific research by using technology to improve the way universities and corporations collaborate with one another.” Clayton went on to explain that Mark Two plans to provide more than just capital to support Astound’s mission. “As a venture studio, we will provide Astound with access to our team of experienced product managers, software engineers, designers, and more to help them build and grow their platform.”

Astound plans to have a limited launch for early beta customers later this year with a full launch of its platform in early 2023. The company is actively seeking universities and corporate research sponsors who have an interest in learning more about the platform. For more information, interested parties can visit Astound’s website at:

Astound Research
Astound Research, Inc. is a Birmingham-based startup focused on making it easier for industry and academia to collaborate with one another. Their platform allows research institutions and universities to find corporate sponsors for important scientific research while accelerating new technologies from the lab to market.

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