UConn Today 06.30.2021
UConn’s TIP Digital Brings Disruptive Companies On Board in First Months
By Anna Zarra Aldrich
UConn’s TIP Digital in Stamford has hit the ground running, harnessing the momentum of the growing data science industry in Stamford to support the growth of 12 new companies. It is part of the larger Stamford Data Science Initiative launched earlier this year.
The startups at TIP Digital are using the promise of machine learning to address persistent problems with novel solutions. Many use technology to put users in control of issues that matter to them.
“Our companies are moving the needle on critical issues. They are disrupting the status quo and making a positive impact not only in their industries, but right here in Stamford,” says Margaret Feeney, Director of TIP Digital.
TIP Digital embraces a hybrid approach. Some companies are in-person at the 5,685 square-foot facility in Stamford, while other members are entirely remote. “Implementing a hybrid approach to our incubation program ensures we evolve with the times and introduces an entirely new set of entrepreneurs to Connecticut and the wonderful resources that the state makes available to them,” Mostafa Analoui, executive director for venture development and TIP at UConn, says.
TIP Digital’s remote companies have committed to making their first hire in Connecticut.
“Having a hybrid element allows us to create jobs in the state in unique and creative ways,” Radenka Maric, vice president for research, innovation, and entrepreneurship says.
As Connecticut’s fastest-growing city, Stamford’s talented workforce and vast resources for early-stage companies makes the city stand out when it comes to startups. Additionally, TIP Digital provides companies with access to UConn resources, including world-class faculty, many of which get involved with the startups, talented students, and teams dedicated to everything an early-stage company needs to succeed from licensing support to advice on raising capital.
Ready Teddy, a California-based company that created a virtual reality product for pediatric MRIs, is just one of the innovative TIP Digital startups. Ready Teddy co-founder Max Orozco heard about TIP Digital and thought the programming would be a perfect fit for his company.
“I’m really excited to collaborate with a university full of researchers and the health care system here,” Orozco says. “We’ll be able to expand our reach in ways that would have taken dramatically longer with our small team.”
Ready Teddy joined the program in May and is already forming meaningful connections with UConn’s large network of clinicians and researchers. Their product uses a predictive algorithm to help clinicians know how a child will respond to an MRI, saving time and increasing the likelihood of a successful scan. Orozco hopes to leverage the geographic connections UConn provides to large children’s hospital networks in the Northeast.
“We believe that the wide range of AI startups in the TIP Digital Incubator are just the first ripples of a tidal wave of innovation and entrepreneurship in Stamford,” says Wes Bemus, Executive Director of StamfordNext, a strategic partner and sponsor of the incubator.
Serial entrepreneurs Mark Strauss and Steve Bofill say they’re honored to have their aerospace startup, WaveAerospace join the UConn TIP Digital program.
“Being part of UConn’s first Stamford cohort is a valuable opportunity at a pivotal time in aviation,” Strauss says.
Since joining TIP Digital a few months ago, TIP’s staff have worked to quickly integrate WaveAerospace into UConn’s thriving research and entrepreneurial ecosystem. “You’ll never get ‘no’ for an answer when you ask, ‘Can you help me with something?,’” Bofill says.
WaveAerospace is a unique TIP company as it is an aircraft manufacturer. With its testing and prototyping facilities offsite, much of its design, computational modeling, and flight data analysis will take place at its TIP offices. WaveAerospace builds aircraft that fly in weather that would ground most other aircraft.
“Put simply, we fly during the storm when we are needed most — not after,” Strauss says.
Strauss and Bofill are currently building two brands, WaveAerospace and SkySqueegee. The latter is an aircraft optimized to fly close to the vertical facades of tall buildings safely, without risk of striking the surface. This technology is useful for tasks like inspection, ice removal, and washing.
As for early successes, one of TIP Digital’s first startups, Whether, Inc., previously ACW Analytics, received $100,000 in seed funding and was accepted into New York City’s prestigious Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator.
“We are excited about working with ERA’s vast mentor and investor network to accelerate our journey,” Vijay Jayachandran, CEO of Whether, says. “As a proud UConn startup, we plan to remain a member of TIP Digital and build out our business here in Stamford.”