Chicago Innovation Mentors to Become Part of MATTER

iBIO Institute’s PROPEL and MATTER to also increase collaboration to accelerate
healthcare innovation

CHICAGO, November 12, 2015 – Health technology incubator MATTER, Chicago Innovation Mentors (CIM) and the PROPEL Center of the iBIO Institute announced today that CIM will become a part of MATTER, bringing the 5-year-old mentoring program under the umbrella of MATTER, which opened in February to help accelerate entrepreneurship and innovation in healthcare IT, medical device, medical diagnostics and biopharma technologies. Additionally, MATTER and the iBIO Institute will partner to integrate support for early stage companies served by both organizations.

The move connects MATTER and its member companies with CIM’s network of 200 seasoned mentors and the deal pipeline of CIM’s founding research institutions, which represent over $2 billion of annual research activity. CIM’s mentors will be able to connect with a broader pool of ventures, while CIM mentees will have access to the extensive resources of both programs. The combination of MATTER and CIM, and the increased collaboration with the iBIO Institute, significantly strengthens the Chicago region’s ability to support inventors and entrepreneurs developing new healthcare technologies.

CIM was formed in 2010 as a consortium of the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, the University of Illinois, the iBIO Institute and Argonne National Laboratory. The organization has received considerable support from the Chicago Biomedical Consortium. Ventures from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and Northern Illinois University have also participated in the program, as have several from Canada as part of a program with the Canadian Consulate General.

Since its launch, CIM has demonstrated a unique ability to accelerate the commercialization of complex R&D-based technologies. More than 150 ventures have participated in CIM’s team-based mentoring program, which was modeled on the successful MIT Venture Mentoring Service. CIM ventures have raised over $46 million in grants and investments. Examples include Briteseed, also a PROPEL company, which is commercializing technology from Northwestern University that makes surgeon’s tools smarter, and Quant HC, which uses technology developed at the University of Chicago that helps detect a patient’s clinical deterioration hours or days in advance of current methods.

MATTER, which launched in early 2015, aligns industry leaders, research universities, health systems and entrepreneurs to accelerate the formation and growth of technology businesses that solve meaningful problems in healthcare. By becoming a part of MATTER, CIM-supported ventures will be able to utilize MATTER’s educational curriculum, partner network and workspace to further their development. In addition, the joint program is expected to attract ventures from an expanding group of research institutions that will become partners of MATTER. While CIM’s primary focus is healthcare, the program will continue to help accelerate select ventures developing other complex technologies, including advanced materials and energy storage.

The PROPEL Center of the iBIO Institute leads a number of programs aimed at increasing the number and success rate of early stage life sciences companies in Illinois. PROPEL has worked with more than 100 companies since its launch in 2007. Companies receive coaching from subject matter experts, investment preparation assistance, regulatory planning assistance, practice with investor panels and pitch sessions, and access to grant and milestone awards that may include equity investments. CIM and the PROPEL Center have often combined resources to assist mutual entrepreneur ventures and early stage companies.

“CIM brings to MATTER deep connections to some of the country’s strongest research institutions,” said MATTER CEO Steven Collens. “With the combination of CIM and MATTER, we expand our ability to unlock innovation and support entrepreneurship to solve big healthcare problems.”

“CIM’s success is in large measure a testament to its mentors’ commitment of time, the breadth of their expertise and their dedication to building Chicago’s entrepreneurial capabilities,” said Steve Gould, interim executive director of CIM, who will continue to lead the program within MATTER. “The CIM-MATTER combination will greatly enrich the range of ventures they can see and get involved with.”

“Having all three organizations joining together in a united and coordinated effort to support pre-company ventures and early stage companies represents the best opportunity to continue the growth of healthcare and biomedical companies throughout the region,” said Warren Ribley, president & CEO of the iBIO Institute. “We also welcome MATTER as a member of iBIO.”

The integration of CIM into MATTER will be completed in the coming months.

About CIM

The Chicago Innovation Mentors university consortium operates a structured, high-touch, team-based mentoring program, with a focus on mentee best interests, monthly meetings, and facilitated networking. Started as a pilot in 2010 with just 25 mentors, CIM has grown rapidly to a corps of 200 mentors, supporting a major need by bringing together experts in entrepreneurship and technology commercialization with new, early stage ventures emerging out of complex R&D in life sciences, materials science, computing and healthcare IT. CIM has become a model for productive collaboration among research institutions. For more information, visit


The PROPEL Center of the iBIO Institute helps guide the development of formation-stage and early stage life sciences companies by providing entrepreneurs with access to specialized resources and expertise to prepare them for early stage funding. Industry, academia, service professionals, entrepreneurs and government agencies connect to create and support a vibrant entrepreneurial community in Illinois and throughout the Midwest through PROPEL programs. For more information, visit


MATTER is a community of entrepreneurs, innovators and industry leaders working together to harness technology to improve health and healthcare. MATTER connects and promotes collaboration between entrepreneurs, scientists, physicians, investors and industry partners in order to bring next-generation products and services to market that improve quality of care and save lives. MATTER was developed by a team of entrepreneurs and industry leaders with the support of the state of Illinois. MATTER began as a project of ChicagoNEXT, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s council on technology and innovation, which is part of World Business Chicago. For more information, visit and follow @matterchicago.

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SuperBetter app returns to help users meet life’s challenges


Meg Graham for Blue Sky Innovation, October 12, 2015

SuperBetter CEO Keith Wakeman uses an app to manage his stress while running a startup.

The same app, he says, could inspire regular exercise and healthy diet and even help reduce symptoms of conditions such as depression and anxiety.

The company re-launched the app in September after acquiring it from the original makers in February. The original makers included Jane McGonigal, SuperBetter’s chief science officer, whose experience inspired the app.

Now the company is riding the wave of an eponymous New York Times best-selling book by McGonigal, a game designer and researcher whose 2012 Ted talk on SuperBetter received more than 5 million views.

Now, Wakeman has a team of five employees and runs the company in Chicago from the Matter healthtech incubator. He’s working to widen the user base with a $150,000 Indiegogo campaign that launched last week and a not-yet-closed round of angel funding. By Friday afternoon, the campaign had raised about $6,200, with 43 days to go.

The app lets users choose a challenge such as alleviating chronic pain or lowering stress, battle “bad guys” like the elevator — instead of the good-guy stairs option — and accept “power-ups” like walking around the block. Users work toward achieving an “epic win” of their choice.

The app, which the company says has nearly half a million users, mirrors McGonigal’s own recovery process after she received a traumatic brain injury in 2009. After the concussion, she struggled with prolonged vertigo, constant headaches and reading and writing, she detailed in an event in late September at the 1871 tech hub.

“I just started inventing this role-playing game on the fly,” McGonigal said at the event. “I was totally concussed so I wasn’t at my computer coding … I’m writing down rules, I’m making video … it was really simple.”

Her game involved assuming a secret identity, taking on quests and trying to become “SuperBetter.” She began, to put it simply, “gamifying” her life — giving herself incremental challenges like getting out of bed or showering to speed her recovery.

“I can’t say how much it helped me to go from a state of being extremely depressed and anxious and feeling like there wasn’t one single thing I could do to get better … to feel like my friends and family had a better idea of what was going on in my life,” McGonigal said at 1871. “The depression and anxiety went away almost immediately [after starting the game]. The cognitive symptoms lasted more than a year, but I never felt depressed and anxious that way again.”

McGonigal gathered a team to transform the process into an app. But in 2013, the original company stopped operating, and the app remained dormant until Wakeman and his new company acquired it from McGonigal’s original team this year.

The “epic wins” vary widely. “It’s not always just about labeling depression or anxiety; it’s anxiety or depression causing me not to be able to do things,” Wakeman said. “A young millennial tweeted, ‘I’m using SuperBetter to go through the process of getting my driver’s permit,’” while another labeled her “epic win” as finding a kidney donor.

The app has been tested in clinical trials at the University of Pennsylvania and the Ohio State University.

The University of Pennsylvania study concluded: “These large effect sizes should be interpreted cautiously in light of high attrition rates and the motivated, self-selected sample. Nonetheless, smartphone-based/Internet-based self-help may play an important role in treating depression.”

Wakeman plans to begin monetizing the app in early 2016 with in-app subscriptions but also wants to forge contracts with partners such as health plans and employers.

“We’re all about engagement, and the healthcare industry is dying for engagement solutions,” he said.

Healthcare Technology Incubator MATTER Celebrates 100 Days of Accelerating Innovation

CHICAGO, May 26, 2015 –MATTER, the healthcare technology incubator for next-generation health IT, medical device, diagnostics and biopharma companies, has forged connections in its first 100 days that will help drive healthcare innovation.

MATTER brings together healthcare entrepreneurs, researchers, academics, industry leaders, investors and associations to collaborate on the development of new healthcare technologies that improve patient lives. The facility opened in mid-February.

Examples of partnerships that have been formed thus far include:

Fibroblast, one of the founding companies of MATTER, uses emerging technology to help physicians and hospitals manage patient referrals. Through its connections at MATTER, Fibroblast recently completed a partnership agreement with Presence Health, a health system with more than 150 sites of care including 12 hospitals. The partnership allows Presence to leverage Fibroblast’s patient referral technology across one of the largest health systems in Illinois while also helping Fibroblast further develop its web-based referral management software.

Prana Diabetes offers a disease management and peer support platform, StopSugar, that helps people with diabetes or pre-diabetes change their habits to better manage their condition. MATTER facilitated a partnership between Prana Diabetes and Chicago-based ContextMedia, a leader in developing digital media to educate patients. Prana Diabetes is now working with ContextMedia to develop a series of videos that give users the information they need to prevent or manage diabetes.

  • Latticeworx forms a partnership to improve electronic medical records

Latticeworx, a company that uses IT solutions to help physicians make better medical decisions, is leveraging MATTER’s partnership with the American Medical Association to better refine its products. Latticeworx recently completed a partnership agreement with a major provider of Electronic Medical Records.

“These are a few examples of the many productive connections and collaborative relationships that have formed since we opened our doors in February,” said MATTER CEO Steven Collens. “These successes in our first days help us see how MATTER fuels innovation among our partners, members and the broader healthcare community, and help guide our future programs.”

In the coming weeks, MATTER will open The Stage, a multi-purpose, clinical simulation space; The Shop, an engineering lab for medical device companies; and the AMA Interaction Studio, a collaborative environment where clinicians and entrepreneurs can shape technologies to improve healthcare delivery. In addition, the health tech incubator will be launching several new initiatives designed to drive even greater connectivity between industry leaders, healthcare executives and entrepreneurs.

MATTER is home to more than 80 health technology startups and has partnered with more than 30 industry leaders, 3 world-class research institutions and 8 healthcare systems, and has raised more than $8 million to support its work.

MATTER began as a project of ChicagoNEXT, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s council on technology and innovation, which is part of World Business Chicago.

MATTER is a community of healthcare entrepreneurs and industry leaders working together in a shared space to individually and collectively fuel the future of healthcare innovation. MATTER’s mission is to proactively connect and promote collaboration among entrepreneurs, scientists, physicians and industry partners to bring next-generation products and services to market that improve quality of care and save lives. For more information, visit and follow @matterchicago.