A network for student teachers, a startup that delivers packed lunches, and a drone for the home are among 11 finalists who will compete in this year’s Northwestern University Venture Challenge (NUVC).

NUVC, which is in its 8th year, will give out over $200,000 in prizes to 11 startup finalists.

The 11 finalists were selected as winners in six different industry tracks at a semifinal competition earlier this May, including green energy and sustainability, consumer products and services, and social enterprise and nonprofit. At the competition, which will be held June 2 from 6 to 9 pm on Northwestern’s Evanston campus, the teams will compete for a $25,000 grand prize ($15,000 for second place, $10,000 for third place), with an additional $150,000 split between all 11 startups (as decided by judges).

Last year’s winner was Opticent Health, a medtech startup that can detect eye problems early.

Here’s a look at the finalists (split up by track).

Green Energy and Sustainability: 

Lilac Solutions: a startup developing new ion exchange materials to transform lithium extraction from brine resources.

LiOnSafe: a lithium-ion battery separator that protects against the dangers of thermal runaway while enabling higher pack energy density.

Consumer Products and Services:

Eighty Nine Robotics: This startup created Rook, an indoor drone for the home that can be controlled from anywhere in the world via smartphone.

Pak’d: a food delivery startup that delivers fresh, custom packed lunches (for kids and adults) to your home.

Social Enterprise and Nonprofit:

The Graide Network: a network that connects student teachers to educators to help ease the burden of grading papers, while giving students hands-on experience and mentorship.

SharEd: a network of early childhood resources and curriculum shared among preschools in developing countries.

Business Product and Services:

IFM Technologies: a robotics startup creating lightweight autonomous drones used for collecting data.

City Key: a hospitality startup that creates custom city guides for hotels and AirBnb hosts.

Life Services and Medical Innovation:

Surginet: a patented mesh that can be used for breast reconstruction after a mastectomy.

Oxy-genie: an automated oxygen weaning device, that can help streamline the emergency department in hospitals.


Audiovert: a startup that creates customizable, wall-mounted speakers.