Investment, business, tech-transfer and faculty pros will share
what it takes to commercialize early-stage innovations.
For MU faculty, staff and students; free and open to the public
Mizzou Innovator Half-Day Conference
Speakers and Panelists
Brian Struchtemeyer | Grey Iris Holdings | Managing Director
Helping companies and others achieve performance goals is a driving force behind Brian Struchtemeyer's personal and collaborative investment endeavors. He sees investments in early-stage companies with high-growth potential as a winning situation for all involved. For investors, it means significant returns, for entrepreneurial visionaries it means seeing their inventions come to life, and for consumers, it means access to valuable products and services.
Struchtemeyer, who is a member of the Centennial Investors Network, enjoys working with other angel investment groups in Missouri to screen and foster deal opportunities and to help enable syndication between groups through strategic alignment and integration. He earned an MBA and a bachelor's degree from Vanderbilt University.
Stephen O'Connor | ImpeDx | Co-Founder and CEO | MU Entrepreneur in Residence
O'Connor has significant experience in technology development, intellectual property, fundraising, business partnerships and company building. A named inventor on more than 50 U.S. patents, O'Connor has been a serial entrepreneur in the technology sector for the past 20 years. He has co-founded and managed more than 10 companies with multiple successful exits, many of which were in the diagnostics area.
ImpeDx, a startup medical device company, is developing and marketing a novel system for detecting bacteria in blood culture specimens for use in clinical laboratories. O'Connor received his doctorate in physical chemistry from the California Institute of Technology and a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Houston
Sandra Marin | MU Extension Entrepreneurship and Industry Engagement | Unit Head
Sandra Marin has extensive management experience running her own two corporations for twelve years while managing several industry engagement and entrepreneurial academic efforts. Currently, she performs activities in technology commercialization, business development and international trade counseling with MU Extension. She heads the Entrepreneurship and Industry Engagement unit, which leads manufacturers and technology entrepreneurs toward growing opportunities.
Katie Thompson | Elemental Enzymes | Co-Founder and COO
Katie Thompson is an entrepreneur, scientist and co-founder of Elemental Enzymes, a company that specializes in the development of custom biotech solutions for the agricultural, animal health and environmental industries. She earned a doctorate in developmental, cellular and molecular biology and a bachelor's degree in biology — both from MU.
Thompson has gone “all-in” on the startup dream, helping lead Elemental Enzymes through business planning and fundraising stages. She has spearheaded a company environment that believes in the startup mentality of “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps,” allowing the Elemental Enzymes to forgo venture capital funding. This spirit has led her to hold many roles as the company has grown. Elemental Enzymes now has 31 employees, has successfully licensing products to two major agricultural companies and is currently aiding the launch of their first product with a licensed partner. Thompson oversees many R&D projects and pre-commercial products while keeping the vision of growth and financial success alive at Elemental Enzymes.
Joni Cobb | Pipeline Entrepreneurs | President and CEO
Joni Cobb has led the development of the nationally acclaimed Pipeline organization since 2006. In recent years, Cobb has worked with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to expand Pipeline beyond a single state format to a regional format, which now supports over 100 high-performing entrepreneurs from Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri. The Kauffman Foundation recently presented Pipeline with the Uncommon Award during its celebration of Mr. Kauffman and his lifelong commitment to entrepreneurship.
Cobb graduated with bachelor's degrees in economics and political science from MU and earned her law degree from Washington University in St. Louis. She serves on the board of directors for the Center for American Entrepreneurship and is a noted speaker on entrepreneurship and innovation.
Dave Alburty | Innovaprep | CEO
Dave Alburty has more than 20 years of experience in the aerosol research industry. His work as a staff research scientist at the Kansas City Midwest Research Institute (MRI) centered on aerosol studies in environmental and biodefense applications. After serving 15 years at MRI, Alburty founded an aerosol science and engineering R&D test, evaluation and product development lab in Drexel, Mo. AlburtyLab offers third-party validation to developers of many large-scale homeland security and Department of Defense projects as well as various commercial products.
Through his work in the biodefense industry, Alburty recognized a missing technology between bio-collection and rapid biodetection/identification. That link is the advancement of sample preparation and biological concentration technologies. Through internal research and development projects at AlburtyLab, The InnovaPrep System was developed to fulfill that need. InnovaPrep was subsequently launched in June 2009 as a manufacturer and integrator of biological sampling and concentration systems and solutions. Alburty received his bachelor's degree in biology and environmental studies from the University of Kansas.
Tom Cohen | Nanopore Diagnostics | Co-Founder and CEO
Tom Cohen is an entrepreneur and scientist in the molecular diagnostic industry. He received his bachelor's degree in molecular and cellular biology from Vanderbilt University and his doctorate in biomedical sciences from the University of California in San Diego before conducting postdoctoral work in diagnostic technology development as a JCC Fund Fellow at Washington University in St. Louis.
Cohen has promoted entrepreneurship throughout his academic career. He served as CEO of The UC San Diego Entrepreneur Challenge, which hosts a business plan competition for student-lead ventures, and helped co-found The BALSA Foundation, a nonprofit that offers grants and resources to first-time entrepreneurs. Cohen was a 2014 fellow in the Pipeline entrepreneur development program.
Michelle Faits | Pro-Arc Diagnostics | Co-Founder and CEO
Michelle Faits is co-founder and CEO of Pro-Arc Diagnostics, a biotechnology company that aims to protect immunecompromised patients from harmful effects of the JC Virus. Immunosuppressive medications can cause debilitating side effects in JC Virus carriers. Pro-Arc Diagnostics is developing JCVerify, a better way to screen patients for the virus so that patients and their doctors have the information they need to manage risk and increase access to the highest-quality therapeutics.
Faits received her doctorate in developmental, regenerative and stem cell biology from Washington University and her bachelor's degree in biology and neuroscience from Brandeis University.
Questions? Contact Laura Roloff at 573-884-0023 or RoloffL@missouri.edu
Last Updated: November 2, 2017