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iBIO Institute’s PROPEL Center Celebrates 10 Years and Looks to Future with New Awards Program

Fundraising campaign to create SBIR/STTR Matching Awards available for PROPEL’s portfolio companies

The PROPEL Center of the iBIO Institute, dedicated to increasing the number and success rates of early-stage life sciences companies in Illinois, is celebrating 10 years of success and looking to its future by announcing yesterday a new SBIR/STTR Matching Awards program.

PROPEL is developing more investable life sciences startups and more prepared entrepreneurs. Since its launch 10 years ago, in June 2007, PROPEL’s portfolio of companies have raised more than $265 million since joining PROPEL, including $80 million in new funding in 2016. Over the past 10 years, PROPEL has funded more than $1.1 million in grants and awards with programs that have a strong leverage effect. PROPEL’s active portfolio of companies have raised $214 in new funding for every $1 that PROPEL awarded.

“After 10 years helping to build the life sciences startup ecosystem, PROPEL is a tremendous success, bringing together the many public and private stakeholders necessary to impact so many startup ventures across Illinois,” said Walt Johnston, Chairman, iBIO Institute and Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Urology and Hospital, Astellas Pharma US, Inc.

Preora Diagnostics owes a lot to PROPEL, who 10 years ago became the pioneer in supporting the Illinois and Chicago medtech startup community,” said John Hart, Preora’s President & CEO. “Without PROPEL to lead the way and encourage our universities, healthcare institutions and investors, Chicago would not be where we are today, one of the fastest growing and very respected medtech startup communities in the country.”

Attune Medical has gone from an idea with no clear path forward to a full-fledged C-Corp with growing revenues, expanding employee base, and sales worldwide in multiple continents – all as a result of PROPEL mentorship and guidance,” said Attune Medical’s Founder and CEO Erik Kulstad.

A significant focus for PROPEL is increasing SBIR/STTR funding to Illinois’ life sciences startups. This federal, non-dilutive funding mechanism helps reduce technology risk, easing the challenges of Series A and later stage fundraising.

To commemorate its past 10 years and looking to its future, PROPEL is launching a new SBIR/STTR Matching Awards for Phase I and II recipients, including bridge awards, to help further reduce investment risk at a critical development stage. These awards will be available only to PROPEL’s portfolio of startups and will further build an evergreen fund for PROPEL’s ongoing support of the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

PROPEL has launched a fundraising campaign for this new SBIR/STTR Matching Awards. Funds raised will leverage funding from SBIRs and STTRs.

Major funding for PROPEL comes from the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust and a grant from the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust starts the new SBIR/STTR Matching Awards program.

“It is exciting and humbling to see the impact PROPEL has made in our 10 years, and will continue to make in the future, in developing more investable life sciences startups and more prepared entrepreneurs,” said Barbara Goodman, PROPEL’s SVP. “Our new SBIR/STTR Matching Awards immediately leverage federal funding in an effective and well-respected program.”

“PROPEL has been instrumental in the preparation of Third Coast Therapeutics as it moves from a university-based academic venture to an entity capable of advancing the science to commercialization,” said Third Coast Therapeutics’ CEO Joe Luminiello.

“Simply put Sintact would not exist had it not been for PROPEL. The insight, direction and investments PROPEL has provided is genuinely immeasurable,” said Sintact Medical Systems’ Founder and CEO Erik Robinson and recipient of an NSF SBIR Phase I, IB and II.

For more information on PROPEL or the iBIO Institute, visit www.ibioinstitute.org.


PROPEL is a group of programs aimed at increasing the number and success rate of early-stage life sciences companies in Illinois. PROPEL helps guide the development of formation-stage and early-stage life sciences companies by providing entrepreneurs with access to specialized resources and expertise to prepare them for early-stage funding. PROPEL is a Center of the iBIO Institute. To learn more about PROPEL and its programs, visit www.ibiopropel.org.

About iBIO Institute

The mission of the iBIO Institute is to orchestrate business leadership in delivery of world-class educational programs and job-creating new technology ventures. Through the work of its three centers, the iBIO Institute helps the community ‘Go’ forward and ‘Grow’ as a leading life sciences center. To learn more about iBIO Institute, visit www.ibioinstitute.org.