Ignite History & Impact

Operating initially under the name Cornell Technology Acceleration and Maturation Fund (CTAM), and now re-launched as Ignite – Cornell Research: Lab to Market, Cornell University funds the further development of select innovations with definite next steps to validate commercialization strategy, whether that be via a startup company or corporate license.

The gap funding program was initiated and funded by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research (OVPR) in 2014 and has grown through university contributions and ongoing gifts from industry partners and alumni. A generous gift from Peggy J. Koenig ’78 helped launch Ignite in 2020, and Kairos Ventures donated to CTAM in 2017.

In the first five years of the CTAM program, completed projects have gone on to raise over $30M in venture capital, corporate-sponsored research, and research grants, a 34x return on investment.

Download the full report to read about select research lab or startup projects here.

Ignite impact

Distribution detail

$1.7 million total investment
46 awarded, 27 completed
$42.1 *total impact

  • $8.9 million gifts and grants
  • $7.6 million commercial partnerships and commercialization
  • $25.6 million venture investment

$40 to $1 impact ROI*
*Impact amount based on completed projects

Ignite Success Stories

Minglin Ma encapsulation device for type 1 diabetes

Minglin Ma

Encapsulation Device for Type 1 Diabetes

The TRAFFIC is an implantable and retrievable device that has the potential to revolutionize the way patients with T1D manage their disease. The Ignite funding allowed the group to collect necessary in vivo data.
Key outcome: $6.4M in sponsored research effort from Novo Nordisk

Paul Mceuen smart electronic ID tags

Paul McEuen

Smart Electronic ID Tags

iD3, a truly microscopic smart tag provides broad applications in anti-counterfeiting. The Ignite funding facilitated the creation a commercially-viable prototype.
Key data: Formation in 2020 of a startup, OWiC technologies, Inc.

Exotanium team

Hakim Weatherspoon

Exostellar: Revolutionizing Cloud Resource Optimization and Management with X-Container Technology

Exostellar (formerly Exotanium) is a company that is creating a cloud resource optimization and management platform. Their platform is unique, as it utilizes a combination of application containers and virtual machines with portable architecture and can live migrate stateful workloads. The company was founded by Hakim Weatherspoon, a Professor of Computer Science at Cornell University, along with Zhiming Shen and van Renesse. The team utilized funding from Ignite Startup to demonstrate the commercial viability of their X-Container technology by developing the support of Open Container Interface (OCI) and Container Runtime Interface (CRI). From 2019 to 2022, Exostellar was incubated at the Praxis Center, and in 2022, the company secured a $12 million series A funding round led by Cambium Capital and Celesta Capital.

Halomine CTO

Minglin Ma

AvantGuard: Pioneering Disinfectant Products to Ensure Long-Lasting Protection Against Harmful Bacteria and Viruses

AvantGuard (formerly Halomine) is a company that is focused on developing innovative disinfectant products that can increase the life and effectiveness of chlorine-based disinfectants. By doing so, their products can help maintain a disinfected environment for a longer period, ensuring users are safe from any harmful bacteria or viruses. The technology is emanating from Professor Minglin Ma group. The company was incubated at the Praxis Center from 2019 to 2022, and during this period, it received Ignite Startup funding, which helped the company reach a critical milestone by demonstrating that their proprietary polymer could be manufactured on a large scale. As a result of its innovative work, AvantGuard has been awarded multiple SBIR grants, as well as a $2 million grant from the New York State Biodefense Commercialization Fund, which was awarded via the Empire State Development agency. Additionally, AvantGuard has secured a strategic partnership with Diversey, a publicly traded sanitation-product company. Although the company has moved out of the Praxis facility, it remains headquartered in Ithaca.

Accelerate Cornell Innovation.
Ignite Commercialization and Venture