CITRIS Foundry announces spring 2024 cohort

Collage of four photos: a person at a microscope, an integrated circuit board, a person lying in a hospital bed, an eroding coastline. Overlaid is the CITRIS Foundry logo.

The CITRIS Foundry, the University of California’s information technology incubator at the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society and the Banatao Institute (CITRIS), welcomes five teams into its spring 2024 startup cohort. 

The 12-month program provides business, legal and technological support to student and faculty entrepreneurs affiliated with the four CITRIS campuses at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Merced and UC Santa Cruz. These resources aim to prepare teams to seek venture capital funding and bring their inventions to market.

Since its inception in 2013, the CITRIS Foundry has supported more than 135 founder teams that have secured more than $220 million in total funding. The UC innovators joining this cohort are working to address various societal challenges by integrating tech innovations into the health care, semiconductor and sustainability sectors — with four out of five teams incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) in their platforms.

“AI has become a major area of research within UC,” said Marc Theeuwes, managing director of the CITRIS Foundry. “Many of the current and joining startups are applying AI to a variety of industries including pharmaceuticals, education, semiconductors and more.”

The spring 2024 cohort is as follows:

Digitalis Bio, UC Berkeley
Founding team: Sasha Farina, J.R. McCrery

The current course for pharmaceutical product development involves a resource-intensive process for testing each potential medication for its viability in human patients. Most drug candidates fail, and more than half of the total costs for bringing successful medications to market are spent on testing alone. Digitalis Bio is building an AI-powered platform for pharmaceutical companies to use to analyze chemical compounds, identify toxicity risks and predict efficacy rates of potential medications while significantly reducing development time and testing costs.

Generation Alpha Transistor (GenAlpha), UC Berkeley
Founding team: Dan Fritchman

Software engineers often use large language models (LLMs), such as the popular ChatGPT system, to help generate and debug code — akin to a coding “copilot.” These LLMs can accept and relay back information using natural language, or language as it’s actually spoken and written, instead of requiring users to input their requests through a specific programming language. Generation Alpha Transistor is an LLM-based copilot designed to help visual and graphical engineers in semiconductor fields design printed circuit boards, custom integrated circuits, schematics and floorplans more quickly and efficiently. 

Pressure Injury Monitoring and Prevention (PIMAP), UC Santa Cruz
Founding team: Regina Hoang, Katia Obraczka

Health care professionals refer to pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores, as “never events” — meaning that they should never occur in a well-managed medical setting. Yet more than 2.5 million people in the United States suffer from these painful injuries each year, with patients who cannot move without assistance most frequently affected. Devices currently in use for preventing pressure ulcers, such as pressure-sensing mats and handheld scanners, are often too expensive or ineffective, or even inaccessible due to proprietary technology. PIMAP is an open-source, low-cost system that uses pressure sensors, bodily fluid measurements and artificial intelligence to detect which patients are most at risk for bedsores and severe complications, so that clinicians can focus on those who need it most. 

Redwood Bio, UC Santa Cruz
Founding team: Danny Seth, A. Ali Yanik

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease typically requires a combination of neurological and blood tests, medical history, and brain imaging. Redwood Bio is pioneering a test that can detect the disease in its early stages using only a blood sample. Its technology can discover Alzheimer’s up to 15 years before symptoms appear, with a sensitivity that is a hundredfold higher than current diagnostic tools. Advanced detection can lead to improved treatment options, access to support services, and additional time for patients and their families to plan for future care needs.

Tellus, UC Berkeley
Founding team: Zhifei Dong, Qiusheng Wu

As our world warms and its seas rise, coastal engineering, a subfield of civil engineering focused on the safeguarding of shorelines and near-shore infrastructure, faces an increasing demand for advanced analytics and AI tools. However, organizations that conduct coastal engineering research often encounter challenges such as a lack of programming expertise, expensive technology consulting services and scalability issues with existing tools. Tellus offers these companies and government agencies affordable, customizable access to open-source datasets and distributed computing.