Startup roundup: New alliances for Ava Labs

Ava Labs, Inc. – the first client to join Cornell’s Praxis Center for Venture Development, has entered a strategic alliance with the multinational professional services group Deloitte. Announced in November, this partnership will enable a new federal disaster recovery platform by using Ava Labs’ Avalanche blockchain.

In other news, Ava Labs will join the Mastercard Start Path Crypto startup engagement program – dedicated to exploring and solving difficult world problems for people and industries using blockchain technology.

Ava Labs founder Emin Gün Sirer, CEO, is a former Cornell associate professor of computer science, while founder Maofan “Ted” Yin, M.S. ’19, Ph.D ’21 is chief protocol architect; founder Kevin Sekniqi, M.S. ’18, is chief operating officer; and John Wu ’92 is the company president. Ava Labs products are based on research co-authored with Robbert van Renesse, professor of computer science in the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science.

The Deloitte alliance will help state and local governments quickly demonstrate eligibility for federal emergency funding, and it will improve transaction security, speed and accuracy of Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursements.

The federal reimbursement process can be complex and time consuming. Using the Avalanche blockchain in Deloitte’s Close as You Go cloud-based platform could simplify and streamline disaster reimbursement federal application, according to Deloitte.

Effectively, this partnership provides state and local officials with a decentralized, transparent and cost-efficient system for grant makers and funding recipients, while minimizing fraud, waste and abuse, according to Deloitte.

In a press announcement in December, Mastercard said that Ava Labs’ Avalanche blockchain “provides a fast, low-cost and eco-friendly platform to develop solutions for decentralized finance, enterprise-use cases, digital collectibles and more.”

The other four companies joining the Mastercard ecosystem are Envel, Kash, LVL and NiftyKey.

National Resilience, Inc., a manufacturing group that aims to broaden access to complex medicines, has acquired SwiftScale Biologics, a San Leandro, California-based startup company that uses a Cornell- and Northwestern University-developed cell-free protein synthesis (CFPS) technology.

The acquisition was announced Dec. 2.

CFPS technology eliminates the constraints of using living cells in the pharmaceutical manufacturing process. This results in faster production times, less variability across batches and greater scalability with hard-to-produce proteins, according to National Resilience.

SwiftScale Biologics was co-founded by Matthew DeLisa, the William L. Lewis Professor at Cornell’s Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Michael Jewett, a professor at Northwestern.

With strong demand in the biopharmaceutical industry for drugs with two or more targets and other complex biologics, CFPS suggests a promising way to produce next-generation therapies, according to National Resilience. With further development, the acquiring company intends to integrate the technology into its future manufacturing platforms.

Danimer Scientific, Inc., a next-generation bioplastics company focused on the development and production of biodegradable materials, announced the $152 million cash acquisition of Novomer, Inc., a former Cornell spinout company.

Novomer, acquired last August, was created in 2004 around several sustainable polymer technologies developed at Cornell by Geoffrey Coates, the Tisch University Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Coates’ teaching and research interests involve science at the intersection of organic, inorganic and materials chemistry. The broader impacts of his research include benign polymers and chemical synthesis, the utilization of renewable resources, and materials safe and economical energy storage and conversion.

In 2016, the three co-founders of Novomer – vice president Scott Allen, Ph.D. ’04; founding CEO and board chairman Anthony Eisenhut ’88; and Coates – received the Kathryn C. Hach Award for Entrepreneurial Success from the American Chemical Society.

The technology for all three companies was licensed through Cornell’s Center for Technology Licensing.

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