First Look SoCal Innovation Showcase 2018

June 20, 2018

The Luskin Conference Center at UCLA in Los Angeles, CA

425 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095

A showcase of the 30 best early-stage teams selected from 18 of the region’s top research institutions. Each team will present the potential commercialization and application of their research in order to secure early stage funding for their companies. The day will feature three concurrent domain tracks (Life Science, Computer Science, and Physical Science) preceded by a keynote and a panel discussion.

You’ll see…

Early-stage companies commercializing scientific breakthroughs discovered and developed in SoCal

Innovations from 18 of SoCal’s top research universities and institutions

Why You Should Attend

Connect with world-class innovators and thought leaders shaping the future of tech and life science

Discover a source of plentiful investment opportunities, right in your own backyard

Get access to an exclusive invite-only event free of charge (thanks to generous support from our sponsors)

The First Look Showcase is presented by the Alliance for Southern California Innovation and the Los Angeles Venture Association (“LAVA”).


Check-in 1:00 PM | Keynote and Panel 2:00 PM | Team Presentations 3:30 PM | Cocktails 6:30 PM

Full Event Schedule

Contact Information

We have reached capacity and registration for the event is now closed.

Please email if you need to contact us about an existing registration.

Thank you to our Sponsors

Goldman Sachs


Silicon Valley Bank

Wilson Sonsini

Featured Speakers

Bill Gross

Bill Gross - Keynote & Founder & Chairman


Bill Gross founded Idealab in March 1996. Bill is a lifelong entrepreneur, starting his first solar business in high school. After graduating from California Institute of Technology, Mr. Gross started GNP Development, Inc., which made a natural language product for Lotus 1-2-3 called HAL. In 1985, Lotus Development Corporation acquired GNP. In 1991, Mr. Gross started Knowledge Adventure, an educational software publisher that was eventually sold to Havas/Vivendi. Bill serves on the boards of directors of numerous companies and is also a member of the Board of Trustees of California Institute of Technology and the Art Center College of Design. Mr. Gross received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from California Institute of Technology.

Rob Freelen

Rob Freelen - Panel Moderator & Market Manager


Rob Freelen is Silicon Valley Bank’s Los Angeles Market Manager where he leads a team of technology bankers in search of commercial banking glory. Our team, based in Santa Monica, delivers SVB’s full platform: venture debt, corporate cash management, foreign exchange, strategic payment solutions, strategic analytics, private equity fund banking, private banking, wealth management and venture capital.

In 2014, prior to taking the LA Market Manager role, Rob served as SVB’s first Chief of Staff where he facilitated the reorganization of SVB’s sales organization. Prior to his role as Chief of Staff Rob led Business Development for SVB’s Life Sciences Practice in the Western United States. Since joining SVB in 2005, Rob has worked with several hundred companies, having led debt transactions for more than 100 public and private companies.

Rob found Silicon Valley Bank after spending his early career working for both a start-up and an asset management firm. Way, way back Rob earned a B.A. from Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA and still believes he’ll own a winery there someday. Rob spends his free time cycling and chasing his three young daughters in the surf around Santa Monica.

Aaron Fyke

Aaron Fyke - Panel Moderator & Managing Director


He is currently Managing Director at Thin Line Capital providing investment and advisory services to funds such as Rusheen Capital, Climate Impact Capital, and other family offices, bringing investment capital to bear on some of the world’s toughest problems in energy, water and food sustainability.

While CEO of Edisun Heliostats, he was committed to lowering the costs of solar thermal power. Backed by Idealab, Bill Gates, NRG, and others, Edisun has received recognition from Hawaii’s Energy Excelerator as their only company to be accepted into both their 2015 and 2016 portfolio cohorts. Prior to Edisun, Aaron was the Founder and CEO of Energy Cache, a low-cost grid scale energy storage technology company, serving a multi-billion dollar energy market.

Previously he headed up the development of a $10m X PRIZE in Energy for the X PRIZE Foundation. Prior to that he was a Partner at Starfish Ventures, Australia’s largest venture capital firm, where Aaron led the investment into the fund’s biggest investment and exit – Ausra, a KPCB and Khosla Ventures backed solar thermal energy company.

Aaron is an adjunct lecturer on entrepreneurship at USC and has been a consultant and keynote speaker to utilities (e.g., TransAlta), corporations (e.g., Google), and a number of conference and media events (MIT Tech Review, AlwaysOn Going Green and others).

Aaron earned his MBA and MSME as an LGO fellow at MIT, and his BEng in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Victoria, graduating at the top of his class. He is a Professional Engineer both in California and British Columbia.

Len Lanzi

Len Lanzi - Event MC & Executive Director


Leonard M. Lanzi has over 30 years of non-profit organization management and fund development experience. He has been serving as the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Venture Association since 2007. In his capacity at LAVA, Len works with the LAVA board of directors to direct the strategic plan and organize educational and informational programs within the venture funded business ecosystem in the greater Los Angeles region.

Leonard brings a well-rounded knowledge from such diverse human service organizations as the Community Kitchen of Santa Barbara, Court Appointed Special Advocates, Junior Achievement of Southern California and the Boy Scouts of America.

Leonard graduated from the University of Rochester with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He is an active member of the Rotary Club of Santa Monica where he served on its Board of Directors as VP Programs. Leonard also serves on the board of directors as Board Chair for Meals on Wheels West, as Board Chair for Rotarians for Family Health and AIDS Prevention, also the Italian American Chamber of Commerce West, the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Governors for StartOut, a nationwide entrepreneurial organization for the GLBT community.

Matt Bresnahan

Matt Bresnahan - Panel Moderator & Partner


Matt Bresnahan is a partner in the San Diego and Los Angeles offices of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where he has focused his practice over the past 10 years on all aspects of intellectual property, including strategic patent counseling, patent prosecution, licensing, and litigation. Matt is primary outside IP counsel to more than 50 life sciences companies within the biotechnology, molecular biology, pharmaceutical, diagnostic, and medical device fields in Southern California. Matt is an adjunct professor of law at the University of San Diego School of Law, where he has taught patent law for the past five years.

VC Panel

Shahin Farshchi

Shahin Farshchi, Ph.D. - Partner


Shahin empowers entrepreneurs aiming to accelerate humanity towards a fantastic future through feats of engineering. His recent investments at Lux Capital include Nervana, the deep learning chip company recently acquired by Intel; Planet Labs, which has launched the world’s largest fleet of Earth-imaging satellites; Plethora, which is rolling out a fleet of robotic machine shops; Flex Logix, making chip IP blocks that can reprogram themselves; Relativity Space, launching 3D-printed rockets; Aeva, inventing a new sensing paradigm for robots; Mythic, building powerful deep learning chips for edge devices, and Zoox, what comes after the automobile.

Kara Nortman

Kara Nortman - Partner


Kara Nortman joined Upfront Ventures as a partner in November 2014. Kara is also co-founder of Seedling where she currently serves as Chairman. Prior to starting Seedling, Kara spent close to seven years at IAC where she acted as the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Urbanspoon and Citysearch. Prior to Urbanspoon/Citysearch, Kara co-headed the M&A group at IAC where she lead some of their most successful acquisitions, notably Urbanspoon, and Aston Hotels. While at IAC, Kara also served as a board member to Hatch Labs, IAC’s mobile technology incubator, where she recruited and advised Tinder. Kara also spent time at Morgan Stanley, Microsoft, and Battery Ventures. Kara received her AB in Politics from Princeton University and her MBA from Stanford University.

Andy Wilson

Andy Wilson - Moderator & Executive Director


Andy is a leader in the Southern Californian innovation ecosystem and has started, led or invested in more than two dozen tech start-ups. In addition to leading the Alliance as Executive Director, he serves on the City Council for the City of Pasadena and he is a founder of Innovate Pasadena (, which is dedicated to advancing the Eastside of Los Angeles as a vibrant innovation center for deep tech.

Previously, as founder of Momentum Ventures, an early stage tech accelerator and venture fund, he personally led more than a half dozen SoCal tech start-ups and invested in almost a dozen others. He previously held senior executive roles (President, SVP Product, CIO, COO) at Overture Services/Yahoo!, RiverOne, Bowne & Co and RR Donnelley & Sons. He has extensive board experience in not-for-profit and community organizations such as Pacific Oaks College, Pasadena Heritage and STEAMCODERS. He is a regular speaker at entrepreneurs’ events and business schools and was named one of the 50 Most Innovative Men in the San Gabriel Valley. Andy holds an engineering degree with honors from Dartmouth College and received his MBA with a concentration in operations and technology management from Harvard Business School.

Jay Goss

Jay Goss - Partner


Prior to launching the Wavemaker Three-Sixty Health venture fund, Jay Goss worked with more than 30 early stage companies, sometimes in a CXO role and sometimes as an advisor, helping the start-ups develop and execute their go-to-market and fundraising strategies (which include rounds from nearly every funding source – angels, VCs, strategics, family offices, crowd investing and celebrities). He also has experience working “intrapreneurially” building new business units for large companies such as Disney/ESPN, Reed Elsevier and Summa Group. Goss earned his BA from UCLA (Economics & Business) and then went across town to USC for his MBA (concentration in Entrepreneurship).

Rick Smith

Rick Smith - Co-Founder & Managing Director


Rick Smith is a Co-Founder and Managing Director of CrossCut Ventures. CrossCut is an early-stage venture capital with over $200 million under management.

CrossCut’s investments are focused in consumer internet, enterprise software and gaming. CrossCut current and past portfolio companies include Fabletics, JustFab, Ipsy, Docstoc (sold to Intuit), GumGum, Pulpo Media (sold to Entravision), Data Science (sold to Oracle), Verve, Shoedazzle (sold to JustFab), Dermstore (sold to Target), Winc, Lettuce (sold to Intuit), BlackTux and Super Evil Megacorp.

Prior to co-founding CrossCut, Rick was a managing director at an early-stage venture capital firm based in Santa Monica, California, with over $500 million under management. Prior to that, he was a managing director at SunAmerica, Inc., where co-founded SunAmerica Ventures, a $750 million fund focused on both direct investments and investments in other venture funds.

Rick began his career as a corporate attorney, working five years at the Los Angeles office of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCloy, a New York-based firm. He graduated from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, with a degree in finance. He also graduated from Harvard Law School.

Meet The Teams

Computer Science Track

Peter Shin, Founder + CEO

UC San Diego

Canvas Labs

Canvass Labs develops software using AI techniques to scan and analyze Open Source Software. Their software can accurately find OS license information in source code and they developed an algorithm to quickly identify software components along with logical explanations to the results.

Canvass Labs

Michel Sika, CEO/Founder


Lucid Circuit, Inc.

Lucid Circuit, Inc. is developing the Astrum line of processors specifically for machine learning and blockchain applications by enabling analysis and information accountability “at the edge”.

Lucid Circuit

Aditi Majumder, CEO

UC Irvine

Summit Technology Laboratory

STL enables multi-user interactive shareable experiences via a projector aggregation and interaction software (PRAIS) without the use of wearable devices. Our PRAIS enables high-resolution, high-brightness projections on arbitrarily shaped objects and surfaces as well as lucid interaction with precisely illuminated surfaces via various interfaces (e.g. laser pointers, hand gestures, mobile devices).

Summit Tech Lab

Homayoun Yousefi’zadeh, CEO

UC Irvine

CellOnyx, Inc.

CellOnyx offers software-only capacity solutions aimed at load-balancing and minimizing cluster level congestion for clusters of cellular towers in metropolitan areas operating on 3G, 4G, and 5G standards.


Jeff Greenberg, CEO

UC Irvine

Ops Guru

Ops Guru, part of UCI Health, developed a system to reduce exam room wait times which significantly decreases patient cycle time allowing the facility to book more appointments and generate more revenue from the same exam room assets.


Masoud Jalali, Co-Founder

UC San Diego


Visionful is an artificial intelligent vision-based parking monitoring and management solution. It identifies empty parking spaces in real time and can be connected to mobile apps and future self-driving cars. It also automates the enforcement and payment process in real-time and reports violations of parking regulations.


Joey Maitra, Founder/Chief Architect

UC San Diego

GigaIO Networks, Inc.

Link Express™ (LEX™), invented by GigaIO™ is a complete interconnect fabric, extending the industry-standard communication interface (PCI Express) to deliver data to cluster applications with the fastest bandwidth, lowest latency, and lowest power consumption of any alternative.


John Beane, CEO

UC San Diego

MemComputing, Inc.

MemComputing, inspired by the human brain, pioneered a new concept called Self Organizing Logic Gates that use physics to work cooperatively to drive to a solution in one compute cycle.


Mike Lim, Co-Founder

Andrew Powch, Co-Founder



Xtelligent is an algorithm and device company bringing the latest innovations in dynamic network theory, Internet of Things, and machine learning technologies to road networks. By connecting signalized intersections to the latest sensor technology and enabling rapid, edge computing capabilities, Xtelligent is driving the step-change in traffic intersection technology and laying the ground logic required for the connected and autonomous vehicle future.


Kenneth Rose, CEO

UC Santa Barbara

InfoCoding Labs Inc.

InfoCoding Labs Inc. offers a transformative means to achieve near-optimal audio compression at low latency through a novel proprietary technology, called cascaded long term prediction, that provides optimal prediction of all periodic components of an audio signal from the immediately preceding segment of samples.

InfoCoding Labs

Life Science Track

Sam Alworth, CEO


AcuraStem Inc.

AcuraStem utilizes advanced stem cell technology and machine learning to predict drug efficacy for diseases of the central nervous system (CNS) using living neurons from current patients – a virtual nerve biopsy. This precision medicine platform has identified a novel ALS target and preclinical lead candidate.


Michael Demetriou, Co-Founder

UC Irvine

GlyTR Therapeutics

GlyTR (pronounced Glitter) is a disruptive immunotherapy platform technology capable of targeting the vast majority of cancer types, from breast cancer to leukemia. GlyTR overcomes many of the shortcomings of current immunotherapies by binding to never before targeted sugar antigens (TACA’s) that are common to virtually all types of cancer.

GlyTR Therapeutics

Andrew Gomperts, President & CEO

Children’s Hospital LA

Hillhurst Biopharmaceuticals, Inc.

Hillhurst is enabling the use of carbon monoxide (CO) as a Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) therapeutic with HBI-002, an oral drug product that provides a highly novel dual mechanism of action to this orphan disease.

Hillhurst Bio

Damien Kudela, Founder & CEO

UC Santa Barbara

Cayuga Biotech, Inc.

Cayuga Biotech is developing polyphosphate-based therapeutic candidates to accelerate coagulation only at active bleeding sites. Our technology delivers platelet-length polyphosphate (polyP), endogenous to the coagulation cascade, to accelerate blood clotting in bleeding patients.

Cayuga Biotech

Jennifer Filbey, CEO

SLO/Cal Poly

Mazen Animal Health

Mazen Animal Health is focused on developing, delivering and commercializing novel biological vaccines and therapeutics that address complex or unsolved challenges in animal health and protein production.

Mazen Animal Health

Paul Wagner, CEO


Rasalas Therapeutics

Rasalas Therapeutics has developed a platform technology for delivering protein and small molecule therapeutics across the blood-brain barrier, addressing a significant unmet need in CNS diseases.

David Charlot, CEO


Charlot Biosciences

Charlot Biosciences is changing how clinical labs identify disease through a platform named Intrepid Microfluidics which identifies biomarkers based on their inherent biophysical properties. This reduces the need to perform genetic analysis to identify the subtle difference between normal and abnormal tissue. They pioneered a biomarker discovery platform for researchers named Intrepid Microfluidics which identifies biomarkers based on their inherent biophysical properties.

Charlot Biosciences

Neil Bodie, CEO

CalState LA

Paradigm Immunotherapeutics Inc.

Paradigm is developing a system that will be able to simultaneously remove pathogens & cytokines from blood using lead compounds that bind human IgG antibodies with very high affinity. This will allow us to have a cartridge that will bind multiple antibodies in a matter of minutes.

Paradigm Immunotherapeutics Inc.

Thomas Stone, CEO

UC Riverside

Sensorygen, Inc.

Sensorygen discovers natural small molecules that modify smell and taste behavior in people and insects using computational biology that utilizes a specific and sensitive screening approach that couples digital biology with real biology. Our first product is a natural mosquito repellent that works as well as DEET-based repellents (based on independent lab and strategic partner testing).


Judith L. Campbell, Inventor/Founder



DNATWO will develop a new line of molecularly targeted drugs and therapeutic modality in breast, ovarian, and other cancers, based on our recent identification of a new class of small molecule inhibitors of DNA2, which functions at the nexus of DNA replication and repair.


Physical Science Track

Hao Cao, CEO

Harvey Mudd College


BumbleBeast is a moduar desktop machine that can perform 3D printing, 5 axis CNC milling, laser engraving and many other functions. It has a wide range of automated tools to create objects out of plastics, wood, acrylic and various metals.


Kristin Denault, President

UC Santa Barbara

Fluency Lighting Technologies, Inc.

Fluency Lighting Technologies creates next-generation bright and narrow beam light sources for highly efficient and flexible design illumination, using laser technology and materials design. Our overall goal is to provide ultra-efficient light sources, surpassing the limitations of current lighting technologies,

Fluency Lighting Technologies

Sascha Lee, CEO



Senseer is currently developing a wireless, multi-sensor platform which integrates with hydrocephalus shunts. Our sensors provide real-time and simultaneous tracking of catheter patency, CSF flow, and ICP in an outpatient setting.


Robert Gellibolian, Founder & CEO

CalState LA


CellectGen has developed a patented saliva-based diagnostic device that enables detection of specific markers of disease. The first use of this platform technology is in a test for early detection and real-time monitoring of gum-disease.


Mahshid Roumi, Co-Founder

UC Irvine

Parthian Energy

We are developing the next generation of battery solutions that are 2X more energy, 3X faster recharge, 5x higher power at half the cost and never catch fire! We have more than 16 patents, issued or pending in US, Europe, Korea, Japan and China.

Parthian Energy

Jacob Richardson, CEO

UC Santa Barbara

Solution Deposition Systems, Inc.

SDS develops technology and equipment that enables semiconductor and optoelectronic device manufacturers to utilize environmentally friendly water-based synthesis & deposition of advanced materials to reduce manufacturing costs and/or enhance device performance. SDS is currently focused on a technology for depositing high quality ZnO based transparent conductive layers.

Solution Deposition Systems Inc.

Eric Shnell, CTO

UC San Diego


Craitor has created a combination 3D printer and CNC mill that employs a quick swap carriage for switching between applications easily and quickly. The carriage is designed to be universal for future planned applications (like adding laser engraving/cutting, plotting, and others).


Ruey-Kang Chang, CEO

LA Biomed

QT Medical

QT Medical has reinvented the electrocardiogram (ECG) by making hospital quality 12-lead ECG available to patients at home.

QT Medical

Noemi Bonessio, Founder & CEO

UC Irvine


METAseismic develops cost-effective metamaterials to protect buildings and valuable objects from earthquakes. The name METAseismic combines the word metamaterials and seismic protection. Metamaterials are engineered materials with properties unseen in nature, (from “meta”, Greek world for “beyond”). This is the first startup that creates metamaterials specifically designed for earthquake protection.

Shailendra Singh, CEO

UC Riverside

FarmSense Inc.

FarmSense has developed a real-time, cloud-based insect monitoring platform which detects, classifies, and quantifies insects. When this information is integrated with additional crop and environmental information, it enables optimization of pest interventions, reducing crop losses.

FarmSense Inc.

Participating Institutions

UC San Diego
LA CleanTech Incubator
UCLA Technology Development Group
Magnify at CNSI
Cal Poly
Skysong Innovations
Cal State LA
UCI Applied Innovation
UC Riverside
University of San Diego
The Claremont Colleges
UC Santa Barbara
Johnson and Johnson innovation
Chapman University
USC Stevens
LA Children's Hospital
LA Bio Med