UC, Cincinnati Innovation District celebrate 50th startup milestone

Innovation explodes at UC’s 1819 Innovation Hub as startups go from two to 50+ in just two years

The University of Cincinnati continues to be the place where talent and innovation spark creative collisions at a rapid pace. Just look at UC’s 1819 Innovation Hub, marking a major milestone — 50 startups in just two and a half years in the Venture Lab.

The Venture Lab entrepreneurs-in-residence — professional experts in their field — have inspired and shepherded hundreds of creators and inventors, turning notes on a napkin into game-changing innovation in less than eight weeks. The latest Venture Lab Cohort is set to graduate on Tuesday, May 25, paving the way for even more successful ventures in the marketplace. 

Because of their experience and connection with UC and the 1819 Innovation Hub, many nascent companies stay and grow their businesses in the community — adding to the retention of forward-thinking, entrepreneurial talent in the region.

“Building an entrepreneurial or startup ecosystem is about critical mass,” says David J. Adams, UC chief innovation officer and architect of the Cincinnati Innovation District. “This milestone is a testament that we're building enough critical mass here to make businesses say we want to get involved with what you’re doing.”

In just a month and a half, inspiring entrepreneurs learn how to turn their business concepts into viable ideas. From medical advances and innovative safety for first responders to digital technology that now lightens the load for Hollywood directors, the Venture Lab’s 50 successful startups are applying innovative digital technology to all disciplines.

“It’s been a tremendous road to get here,” says Grant Hoffman, director of startups in UC’s Office of Innovation. “We had a team close its first seed round for $4 million in the drug therapy space and we’ve had other teams out driving actual revenue to keep their products and businesses going without the need for follow-on funding. We now have an additional group of teams that are about to graduate and are looking on to that next venture capital round, whether it be seed or series-A funding.  

“In two and a half years of hard work and dedication by our staff and volunteer entrepreneurs-in-residence, we couldn’t be more thankful for getting to this milestone in such a quick period of time.”

See Words

Young girl wearing headphones looks down at an ipad learning program.

Since the See Words phonemic awareness program hit the market it has received recognition for Best Software Product: 2019 Innovation & Technology Awards; Founder, Renee Seward: STEMmys™ Entrepreneur of the Year; winner of 2015 Cincinnati Innovates; Excellence in Academics Award from the Ohio Board of Education for 21st Century After School Programs; Local 12 WKRC News Feature; WVXU: NPR Cincinnati Edition Feature and The Design of Business | The Business of Design Podcast Feature. Photo/provided

Educational tool See Words, for example, combines cognitive research therapy with visual design technology to create a suite of digital applications that now help people learn to read using visual cues.

While entrepreneurs embrace the creative culture and industry engagement that thrives in the district, they make critical connections to local and national professional experts and funders — turning those ideas into sustainable businesses that now help save lives and retain talent in the region.

BAND Connect

Two images of a cell phone app on left showing outline of human figure while exercising. Stretch band handles are featured on the right.

Band Connect’s VirtuaCare™ platform enables physical therapists to provide personalized care when the patient is away from the clinic - leading to consistent high caliber of care with better compliance and reduced in-clinic visits. Photo/provided

“I love starting a digital health company in Cincinnati,” says Abby McInturf, part of Venture Lab’s first cohort and co-founder of the startup, Band Connect. “The ecosystem of local universities gives you the talent and the research expertise necessary for a digital health startup, and then there are all the nationally recognized health systems at your disposal in the local community.”

Abby started her journey creating a concussion prevention tool for female soccer athletes. The BAND Connect startup technology has now evolved into a local digital health solution company that incorporates life-changing preventative measures and physical therapy rehabilitation to help combat the problems associated with head injury.

It’s not just healthcare concepts but arts, culture and other disciplines out there changing the face of modern industry.


Four laptop screens side-by-side showing 3D film animation program graphics.

Filmatick is a powerful previsualization software program created by the director of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Mike Gasaway, whose experience and technical expertise understands the growing need for a software that can do it all: script mapping, scene-by-scene breakdown, set and character development, animation, lighting, music and sound effects. Photo/provided

Filmatick, started by an entrepreneur with a background in film and TV animation production, combines novel 3D animation software with real-time visual rendering technology.

Mike Gasaway standing next to a poster of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius film poster.

Mike Gasaway, creator of Filmatick. Photo/provided

Film and television producers can now create everything from storyboarding and scripting to lighting and animated scene design in a matter of hours that took old technology days and months to achieve, and the 3D program is now established as a learning tool for professionals and digital media students at UC and other institutions around the country.

Through UC’s Venture Lab, new business teams and their innovations are connected to research, educational, business and legal experts in the city and the innovation district. These unique collaborations help entrepreneurs work through critical details from how to legally safeguard new company ideas with secure patents and garner appropriate funding to challenging the budding executives with learning how to pitch their products to new markets.


UC's associate dean of Graduate School James Mack wears safety glassews in a chemistry lab.

James Mack, associate dean of UC's Graduate School, professor of chemistry and partner and technical advisor for Cinthesis. Photo/provided

When a professor of chemistry teamed up with a retired business development executive from Procter & Gamble and an R&D executive in mechanochemistry, the Cinthesis startup was born.

Using a new ball-mill reactor approach for grinding chemicals, Cinthesis successfully reduces waste and offers a far more efficient process than older methods using heat. And of course, the $110,000 grant awarded by UC didn’t hurt as the innovative team successfully took their chemical invention to the industry.

The essential connections created by UC and other institutions like Wright State University, University of Dayton, Xavier University, Northern Kentucky University and Cincinnati State University — through the Cincinnati Innovation District® (CID) — allow startups to establish relationships with the region’s top science, industry and talent. It’s here where the necessary technology, mentoring and education are provided to support the ongoing development and growth of local and regional businesses. 

Thinkers, researchers, students and industry are converging in the CID to develop the next great ideas to solve real-world challenges — and 50 startups is just the beginning.

Venture Lab startups: 50 and counting

  • Wind Turbine Technologies
  • MARC - Robots as a Service
  • Spurge Technologies
  • Ridge Ropes
  • OnSite App
  • SolePurpose
  • Queen City Certified
  • Bailout Systems
  • ORCA
  • Subterra AI
  • Alinea IQ
  • Roamina
  • CoreVent
  • All-Med Payments
  • Black Acting Methods University
  • Amlal Pharmaceuticals
  • Inneuractive
  • AIMM
  • New Dawn Labs
  • Daarik
  • Datirium
  • Noble Rx
  • Alph Technologies
  • Hidrosis/HyrdoLabs
  • CyberInsight
  • Genexia
  • Peel9
  • BAND Connect
  • Cinthesis
  • AntiOD
  • AcouFlow
  • High Enroll, LLC
  • Bigfoot
  • Filmatick
  • Core Insights
  • ALS Therapy
  • Full-View Mammo
  • CyberRabbit
  • MOX
  • Spiritus
  • Neolife
  • Homeshake
  • AeroSelf - CCHMC
  • AgileProfiles
  • Amplify Sciences
  • See Word Reading
  • HiLois
  • Fress Therapeutics
  • Amplicore
  • Genovel


Featured image at top: Yoonjee Park gives the final presentation of her biodegradible drug delivery startup during Cohort 6. Photo/ Greg Glevicky/UC Office of Innovation


Venture Lab graduation presentations

Virtual screen with 25 windows of faces during UC's Venture Lab cohort graduation.

Even during the pandemic, cohort training and graduation forged ahead as usual.

About UC's 1819 Innovation Hub

The nerve center of the Cincinnati Innovation District®. Home to startups and midsized and Fortune 500 companies, the 1819 Innovation Hub is an ecosystem that serves as a catalyst for collaboration for industry and talent. The 1819 Innovation Hub is the home to UC’s Office of Innovation, UC’s Venture Lab (a startup accelerator program), UC’s Makerspace, UC’s Office of Technology Transfer and 14 corporate partners who are seeking access to talent and proximity for cross-collaboration. Partners that are currently embedded include: Procter & Gamble, Kroger, FIS, Kingsgate Logistics, Cincinnati Bell, Kao Brands, Hillman Accelerator, CincyTech, Village Life Outreach Project, Fifth Third Bank, Cincinnati Insurance Company, Live Well Collaborative and Simpson Center for Urban Futures.

About the Cincinnati Innovation District®

The Cincinnati Innovation District® is a unique and thriving ecosystem that attracts, produces, retains and develops talent by co-locating and collaborating with organizations. Unveiled in 2020 by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted, the district envelops myriad innovation assets and access to some of the world’s leading academic and research centers, organizations and talent pools. Powered by the University of Cincinnati, the CID includes the world-renowned Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and other national research centers. The district’s mission is to become a globally recognized talent hub and lead a transformational movement. The combination of industry engagement, unique experiential platforms and accessible research expertise — working at the pace of change — will become a model nationwide. For more information on the Cincinnati Innovation District, visit www.cincyid.com.

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