2019 Innovation Showcase Introduces Technology and Life Science Startups to Angels


By Lucy Howell, ACA Director of Partnerships 

The seventh annual Innovation Showcase took place last week at the 2019 ACA Summit in Chicago.  This special series of events provides selected companies the opportunity to present their pitch to the entire ACA Summit audience over the course of the Summit.  The Innovation Showcase is by invitation only and presenting companies are nominated by organizations - ACA member angel groups, venture funds, accelerators, and universities government agencies or trade commissions - that underwrite the Innovation Showcase.  The “showcase” represents an incredible opportunity for these underwriters to showcase their best portfolio companies to the angel investors and startup ecosystem leaders at the Summit.

Twenty-nine sponsored entrepreneurs delivered their 90 second speed pitch to the audience over the three-day Summit.  Sponsored entrepreneurs also hosted exhibit tables throughout the Summit to hold private meetings and share their story with attendees. 

The Innovation Showcase had three categories winners included:

  • Best Pitch –selected by attendee vote on the Summit app
  • Best Potential for Investment –selected by attendee vote on the Summit app
  • Venture Bucks votes –selected by attendees voting with paper “Venture Bucks” at the company exhibits during a special reception

BabyPage, from Albuquerque, NM, won Best Pitch.  BabyPage offers traditional scrapbooking for the modern era with easy to use technology that automatically generates content for you based on your information.  BabyPage was represented by Yasine Armstrong and underwritten by Keiretsu Forum-Northwest and Keiretsu Capital.  Other finalists for Best Pitch include Curb from Austin, TX and ARED from Kigali, Rwanda.

Best Potential for Investment was awarded to Curb, represented by Erik Norwood and underwritten by Keiretsu Capital.  Based out of Austin, TX, Curb provides home information on energy trends, pinpoints power hogs and gives the user control over their home and electric bill.  Other finalists for Best Potential for Investment are CorInnova from Houston, TX and ARED from Kigali, Rwanda.

CorInnova of Houston was the 2019 Venture Bucks winner.  Represented by William Altman and underwritten by TMC Venture Fund, CorInnova is developing a minimally invasive, soft robotic cardiac device for heart failure treatment.  This new technology also works to reverse the progression of heart failure or prevent its development in post-heart attack patients.  Other finalists for Most Venture Bucks include IRIBA from Kigali, Rwanda and pl’over from Portland, OR.

William Altman, CEO of CorInnova and 2019 Venture Bucks winner, said, “This has been a fantastic experience and exceeded my expectations to come here.  After being in this community for several days, I understand what is important in a more concrete way and a much more gut feel way.  Now I really understand what angel groups are looking for and what investors want to see from us, so I think I can respond better to their questions and concerns as I communicate what we have to offer.”

Underwriters for participating companies included: National Institutes of Health, VentureWell, Portland Seed Fund, Red Idea, Keiretsu Forum-Mid-Atlantic, Keiretsu Forum-Northwest, Keiretsu Capital, TMC Venture Fund, and Feed the Future Rwanda Nguriza and Nshore Project.

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