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CATALYZE Commercialization Conference

Thursday, February 29, 2024
Duke Energy Hall

CATALYZE 2024 Schedule

9:15-9:30 a.m. Thomas Theis & Thomas Makris: Welcome to CATALYZE 2024

9:30-9:50 Kathryn Polkoff, CEO, Hoofprint Biome, “From Lab Bench to Boardroom: My Journey from PhD Student to Venture-Backed CEO

9:50-10:10 Carlos Dedesma, CEO, Vizma Life Sciences, “Startup Alchemy

10:10-10:20 Coffee break 

10:20-10:35 Zach Williams, New Ventures Program Manager, NC State Office of Research Commercialization: “Startup 101: How to form a university spinout company

10:35-10:50 Lisa Chang, Director of Technology Entrepreneurship & Commercialization: “Making the Most of NC State Entrepreneurship Resources

10:50-10:55 Coffee Break

10:55-11:30 Keynote Address: Peter Johnson, MD, Serial Entrepreneur, “Your Unpredictable Future

11:30 – 12:00 p.m. Networking & Career Fair: Connecting Startups with Students and Students with Startups

12:00-1:00 Lunch

1:00-2:30 Student Team Pitch Competition

Competing Teams:

  • BioTex Fusion Squad
  • Biomedical Research Service
  • CRISPRgen AI Devices
  • DroneMedKit
  • Gliabeauty
  • MagnaShield: Next-Generation Electromagnetic Shielding
  • Occam’s RASER
  • Pomimo: Personalized Medical Monitoring System

2:30-2:35 Coffee Break

2:35-2:50 NC IDEA: Amy Bastian, “An Introduction to NC IDEA MICRO and SEED Grants for Startups

2:50-3:05 NUCLEATE: Lucas Abbott, “Nucleate, a student-led organization that represents the largest global community of bio-innovators

3:05-3:20 Louis Judge, Regional Innovation Network Director, NC Innovation, “Optimizing Innovation for North Carolina”

3:20-3:25 Coffee Break

3:25-3:45 Kultaran Chohan, Executive Director, NC State Office of Research Commercialization Technology Transfer Office: Commercialization of Early Stage Research Discoveries”

3:45-4:00 Ahmed Ali, Director, Albright Entrepreneurs Village & Student Learning Coordinator for NC State Innovation & Entrepreneurship, “Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Your NC State Experience”

4:00-4:05 Coffee Break

4:05-4:10 Joshua Pierce, Executive Director, Integrative Sciences Initiative, “Entrepreneurship Opportunities Through the Integrative Sciences Initiative”

4:10-4:20 Clinton Brooks, Supervisory Patent Examiner at USPTO, “USPTO Resources for Independent Inventors, Small Business Owners, and Entrepreneurs”

4:20-4:35 CATALYZE Award ceremony

4:45-7:00 Social Hour (Off-Campus)

New This Year: Networking & Career Fair with Local NC State Biotechnology Startups!

Recruiting Companies:

Help us get the word out!

Graduate Student Pitch Competition:

  • Graduate Students & postdoctoral researchers are eligible to compete.
  • The pitches are 7 minutes followed by 5 minutes of questions by judges.
  • The pitches should speak to the product and the business model.
  • No more than 5 slides should be used for the pitches.
  • Teams should be at least two people.
  • Winning teams will receive up to $2k to use toward the creation of their startups.
  • The awards can be used at the discretion of the winning teams to further their business ideas in a broad sense.
  • After 6 months of the award, we request a written report of 1.5 pages detailing how the funds were used

Team Registration Deadline is Monday, February 12th.

Pitch Competition Info Sessions:

Want to learn more? Join one of the info sessions below!

Wednesday, January 17, 2024 at 6:00 p.m. in Talley Student Union 3221

Wednesday, January 24, 2024 at 6:00 p.m. in Talley Student Union 4270

Interested but couldn’t make the sessions? Still have more questions? Join our upcoming virtual Q & A with student planning committee members on

Thursday, February 1st, 6:00-7:00 p.m.

via Zoom. Meeting ID: 930 3555 1631 Passcode: 252410

Can’t make the Q & A? View the info session slides below. Or reach out to Megan Pike ( directly with any questions.

The pitches will be judged based on the following criteria:

  • Was the message clearly communicated?
  • Did the presenters define a market?How well was the technical feasibility explained?
  • Did the presenters explain how they will translate from prototype to final product/service?Did the presenter define a viable business model?
  • Did the presentation address the potential for growth of the business?
  • Were the presenters enthusiastic and compelling with their pitch?
  • Were questions answered appropriately?
  • Did the presenters display understanding of their topic?
  • Will the product/service positively impact the wider community?

For More Information

Contact Thomas Theis, Director of Entrepreneurship, for general questions at (

Contact Megan Pike for questions regarding the pitch competition and team formation at (

Past CATALYZE events have included Entrepreneurship Lessons from 15 years of CRISPR Craze, Startup Alchemy, and Helping Your Company on the Runway to Success.

In addition, teams graduate students and postdoctoral researchers put together startup pitches and compete for funding to get help to get started in the commercialization process. Past winning projects have included:

  • Biosensys
  • Next-Generation Biosensors
  • HAPI:ER Solutions, Inc.
  • Avex Motion
  • Biobattery
  • Automatic Video Recording for Athletes