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CATALYZE Commercialization Conference

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Each year, the CMI hosts CATALYZE, a conference featuring seminars on the wide array of resources available through NC State’s Office of Research Commercialization, as well as talks by faculty entrepreneurs and successful entrepreneurs in the biomedical field from around the Triangle and the Country. 

CATALYZE is a commercialization conference to spark ideas and team formation for commercialization at the earliest stage. Commercialization begins with good ideas and a small team that dreams big. CMI is committed to provide the resources and networking to launch such teams towards success.

This year the Comparative Medicine Institute (CMI) is sponsoring its annual

CATALYZE Commercialization & Entrepreneurship Conference on

Thursday, February 23rd 2023, at the McKimmon Conferece & Training Center

  • CATALYZE will include an entrepreneurial competition where teams pitch their ideas for new startup formation. 
  • Teams will be composed of students and postdocs with science and business expertise. 
  • Teams can be up to five people and should include at least two trainees i.e. students / postdocs.
  • Teams will pitch the ideas at the conference and the winning teams will receive significant awards to further explore their ideas.

New This Year:

  • Beginners Guide to SBIR/STTR: An introductory workshop to secure funding for your startup.

CATALYZE 2023 Schedule

9:15-9:30 a.m. Thomas Theis and Hisham El-Shaffey: Welcome to CATALYZE 2023

9:30-9:50 Lisa Chang: Making the Most of NC State Entrepreneurship Resources 

9:50-10:30 Office of Research Commercialization: Commercialization of Early-Stage Research Discoveries

  • Kultaran Chohan: Research Commercialization and Its Importance 
  • Amy Parker: Commercialization Programs – Chancellor’s Innovation Fund & NSF I-Corps
  • Zachary Williams: Startup Services/Programs/Mentorship by ORC to University Utartups 

10:30-10:40 Coffee Break

10:40-11:00 Ian Shih: Writing and Reviewing NIH STTR/SBIR Grants

11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Team Competition

12:30-1:10 Lunch

1:10-1:30 Joshua Pierce: My Path from Academic Lab to Startup

1:30-2:00 Chris Paddon: Semi-synthetic Artemisinin: Using Synthetic Biology to Stabilize Production of the World’s most important Anti-Malarial Drug

2:00-2:10 Coffee Break

2:10-2:25 Susan Carson & Meaghan Nappo: Business and Medicine Program

2:25-2:40 Tim Martin: Startup 101: How to Form a University Spinout Company

2:40-2:50 Yiannie Varoutsos Centennial Biomedical Clinical GMP Facility

2:50-3:00 Coffee Break

3:00- 4:00 Panel-Based Workshop: How to Fund Your Startup

4:00- 4:20 CATALYZE Award Ceremony

4:30-7:00 Social Hour (Off-Campus)

Info on team pitch-competition and awards:

  • 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.
  • Interested individuals should register and plan to attend the team-formation meet and greet event planned for Thursday, February 2nd.
  • 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

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, with any questions at (

For questions about team formation and team composition, contact Hisham El-Shaffey 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:

  • Avex Motion–Varun Nalam and Aaron Fleming
  • Biobattery–Kartheek Batchu and David Probst
  • Automatic Video Recording for Athletes–Jakub Sciora