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TU announces venture fund for startups

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The University of Tulsa’s Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship announced the launch of Hurricane Ventures, a funding catalyst for TU student, faculty, staff and alumni startups.

The initiative, in partnership with 46 Venture Capital (46VC).

“Leveraging the resources and knowledge network of the university, Hurricane Ventures is seeding early-stage companies to drive real impact across the economy and further the mission of TU’s Collins College of Business and the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship,” TU said in a news release.

Launched in early 2023, Hurricane Ventures has already raised $2 million — well on its way to a $10 million goal — to commercialize intellectual property, create new ventures and attain venture capital funding. TU aims to provide seed capital for 100 companies started by TU students, alumni and faculty.

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“Today is a milestone moment for the University of Tulsa as we begin our journey to help seed hundreds of future TU founders and startups,” said Chris Wright, director of the center.

“SkinCheck and AirWise Solutions are both poised to make huge impacts in the digital health and air mobility industries, and we are excited to be a part of their future growth.”

SkinCheck was founded by TU computer science senior Julian Abhari and friend Daniel Marques, who received his undergraduate degree from Oral Roberts University and will begin his MBA at TU in 2024.

Their mobile app is a convenient, reliable and accessible solution for early skin cancer detection.

SkinCheck’s innovative technology represents a first-of-its-kind racially unbiased skin cancer detector as the duo continues their mission to increase access to early skin cancer detection.

“It’s clear that artificial intelligence can be a tool to democratize skills for the world and help to build equal opportunity.

However, as it stands now, AI reflects our own society’s biases, and especially in health care, it can create more disparities.

Mitigating bias is crucial and is why we are very excited for the future of SkinCheck,” Abhari said.

“We realize that this is just the beginning, and we don’t underestimate the responsibility and honor to be one of Hurricane Ventures’ first investments.

We are excited to evolve as we become the future of early skin cancer detection.”

AirWise Solutions, cofounded by TU alumnus Josh O’Leary (1994), is an enterprise drone operational software platform that provides dynamic 3D situational awareness for leaders managing critical infrastructure and public safety operations.

Their mission is to increase service uptime, improve safety, and lower operational costs by harnessing drone and GIS spatial data.

“Both AirWise and SkinCheck are exactly the type of ventures we hope to invest in.

Through Hurricane Ventures, the University of Tulsa will now get to take part in the success of these two impressive teams.

Investing in these companies was a high priority for us and our investors, and we are excited to repeat this for many years to come,” said Connor Sitton, director of Hurricane Ventures.

The developments were announced during Wednesday’s TU Friends of Finance meeting, which is organized monthly by the Collins College of Business.

The keynote speaker was Shane Wharton, president of Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores.

Wharton’s career with Love’s began more than 25 years ago. Today, Love’s has more than 600 locations in 42 states with over 38,000 employees.

For more about Hurricane Ventures, visit hurricanevc.com.

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