2021 Luis Villalobos Winners Are Changing the Innovation Landscape


By: Sarah Dickey, ACA Membership Director

The prestigious Luis Villalobos Award, recognizing the most ingenious and innovative ideas recently financed by members of the Angel Capital Association, was recently awarded to two ACA member-funded companies disrupting their fields. Algenesis, a material science technology company, in the Technology, Services and Consumer category; and Genomenon, a genomic health IT company, in the Life Sciences category. The 2021 Luis Villalobos Award winners are changing the landscape in their respective spaces with ground-breaking innovations.  

About Algenesis

Algenesis is a material science and technology company on a mission to help the planet recover from the pollution caused by plastic products made from fossil fuels. Algenesis’ scientists have redesigned plastic materials, creating the world’s first high performance, renewable, fully biodegradable polyurethanes made from plants.

The technology, first developed at the University of California San Diego, is based on a completely biodegradable polyurethane, and will be initially leveraged in a consumer-based offering. The founders chose footwear as their first use of the patented technology because of the environmental impact of a global shoe market topping 25 billion shoes each year. The company now holds a patent for Soleic™ material and a manufacture-ready design that can be used in a standard manufacturing process to produce flip-flops and shoe soles.

Algenesis has signed an agreement with a major retail brand to sell co-branded flip-flops and plans to make their own BlueView™ slip-on shoes for sales directly to consumers, with aims to grow to $100 million in revenue by 2026.

“As an angel investor, we always want to find that rare gem that is a great business and solves an important global issue – plastic pollution in the ocean,” said nominating angel, Dan Rosen of Alliance of Angels.  Algenesis’ new technology comes from algae and can replace high-performance polyurethane but biodegrades to basic compounds in a short time.  We funded this deal in less than a month with a syndicate of the Alliance of Angels, SWAN Ventures, and Oregon Sports Angels.“

“Algenesis is on a mission to reduce plastic pollution by developing sustainable and biodegradable polyurethane products, and we are thrilled and honored to receive the 2021 Luis Villalobos Technology award from ACA in recognition of both our technology and our mission,” said Stephen Mayfield, Chief Executive Officer of Algenesis.  “We have developed renewable plant-based polyurethanes that meet high performance specifications for footwear, and that are 100% biodegradable using home composting.  At Algenesis, we believe that great technology does not change the world, that great products do, and we need investors that share our mission and bring deep expertise to help us deliver these products to market.  With our three angel investing groups, we believe we have found investors with deep technical expertise that share our passion for reducing plastic pollution on this planet.”

About Genomenon

One in 15 people suffer from a rare disease, 80% of which are genetically driven. Rare disease patients often see dozens of doctors, are subjected to a variety of medical tests, and take an average of 7 years to finally receive a diagnosis. Genomenon shortens this diagnostic odyssey by connecting patient DNA to scientific research and putting the findings at the fingertips of the treating clinicians - empowering them to make faster genetic diagnosis and treatment decisions. 

Genomenon leverages artificial intelligence to organize the world’s genomic knowledge from all sources of scientific research. Genomenon’s product set includes the Mastermind Genomic Search Engine, which enables doctors and clinicians to diagnose patients suffering from rare genetic diseases and cancer. The AI-powered Mastermind is the world’s leading genomic search engine with more than 12,000 clinical users and 1,000 genetic testing labs and hospitals in 140 countries. At the touch of a button, Mastermind provides clinical insight into the scientific literature on genomic data, and its use has already resulted in a 12% increase in diagnoses of rare diseases and specific types of cancer.

“We are thrilled to be recognized by the Angel Capital Association for this award,” said Mike Klein, Genomenon’s Chief Executive Officer. “Our angel investors have been key partners – supporting the company since the founding of the company and have continued to support us through our growth.”

Skip Simms, Managing Director for Michigan Angel Fund, an early investor in Genomenon, said “We all look for companies with game-changing technology and an expert team that can execute getting the product to a global market. Genomenon is such a company. We are proud of this investment and potential to serve people with quicker, effective diagnosis for better health.” 

To learn more about Algenesis, visit algenesismaterials.com

To learn more about Genomenon, visit genomenon.com

For more information about the Luis Villalobos Award, visit angelcapitalassociation.org/luis-villalobos-award/

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Why I Angel Invest by Daren Cotter (Gopher Angels, LLC)  on  August 13