Activate Cohort 2021: Deep Tech Innovations in Sensors, AI, Quantum, and Security

The 23 fellows, including active IEEE members, will spend two years embedded at leading laboratories while advancing their innovations across industrial sectors.

Activate Cohort 2021: Deep Tech Innovations in Sensors, AI, Quantum, and Security 

By Mary Catherine O’Connor

Activate, a nonprofit organization that empowers scientists to reinvent the world by bringing their research to market, is proud to introduce the 2021 cohort of Activate Fellows. These 23 scientists and engineers are launching what promises to be hugely consequential businesses across key industries. Their innovations include quantum memory; digital imaging radar; low-cost, high-precision gyroscopes; hardware-based chip security; advanced, bio-based materials; flexible batteries; and carbon-free energy systems.

The 23 fellows, including active IEEE members, will spend two years embedded at leading laboratories while advancing their innovations across industrial sectors. The individuals were selected from a pipeline that included nearly 400 applicants from 30 countries and 32 U.S. states, bring a wealth of scientific talent and ambition. While many are joining directly from academia, others have years of industry experience.

“The number of world-class scientists vying for these limited fellowship slots grows every year,” says Activate CEO Ilan Gur. “That we attracted this level of talent during a year of such uncertainty speaks both to these fellows’ drive for impact and the critical need for organizations like Activate that empower scientists to turn their research into new products and businesses that will improve our world.”

Activate partners with funders, including the Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO), Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and philanthropic organizations, and embeds fellows at leading research institutions—including MIT Lincoln Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. This cohort is the second to be split between Activate’s two locations: Berkeley and Boston. 

Activate’s 2021 Fellows and their startups:

David Mackanic Anthro Energy is pioneering flexible batteries that are safe and tough enough to put in watch straps and aircraft walls.
Jungah Lee Aura Intelligence Systems is developing a disruptive 4D imaging radar for challenging autonomous mobility and Industry 4.0 applications.
Shannon Nangle & Marika Ziesack Circe Bioscience uses engineered microbes that consume CO2 to produce fats—a key to flavor, texture, and nutrition in foods—through a versatile fermentation platform.
Andrew Stern Coremeleon is leveraging hardware-centric protection mechanisms to combat IP theft and ensure the safety of critical electronics systems and infrastructure.
Joey Kabel & Daniel Stack Electrified Thermal Solutions wants to decarbonize industrial processes with a low-cost thermal energy system that efficiently stores renewable electricity as high-temperature heat.
Jae Cho Enertia Microsystems is commercializing a fused silica gyroscope that matches the state-of-the-art gyroscopes’ performance at one-hundredth the cost and size.
Kezi Cheng & Pete Christensen FLO Materials is commercializing a new class of infinitely recyclable polymers to enable the transition to a more circular economy.
Antonio Baclig Inlyte Energy’s battery made from iron and table salt could be a gamechanger for affordable storage of renewables on the grid.
Aaron Hall Intropic Materials is developing high-performance plastics that last exactly as long as they are needed.
Floris Engelhardt Kano Therapeutics’ biotechnological production platform seeks to revolutionize gene delivery and vaccine constructs for pharmaceutical and synthetic biology companies.
Cameron Hill LintrinsIC is making high-performance RF switches using a cost-effective CMOS process to enable reconfigurable radio architectures.
Ben Jenett Metavoxel Technologies’ scalable, low-cost manufacturing process makes materials with controllable properties, enabling lightweight, adaptive structures and systems that do more with less.
Francesco M. Benedetti & Holden Lai Osmoses molecular filters have unprecedented productivity and size selectivity, enabling drastic reductions in costs and carbon emissions for industrial separations.
Fatma Kaplan & Karl Cameron Schiller Pheronym is an agricultural biotechnology company developing nontoxic solutions for pest management through innovative pheromone applications.
Brendan Hermalyn Pythagorean Applied Research wants to transform how we perceive the world with cutting-edge sensing and perception technologies.
Mael Flament Qunnect builds hardware to transform telecommunications infrastructure into scalable quantum networks.
Sam Green & Ahmet Ozcan Semiotic AI’s mission is to build a secure negotiation protocol to automate trading in decentralized markets.

Founded in 2015, the two-year Activate Fellowship is a proven path for science entrepreneurs to move their breakthrough research into the market. It provides fellows the time, resources, and guidance to develop as leaders and mature their ideas as they start their entrepreneurial journeys. Unlike startup accelerators, the Activate Fellowship takes no equity stake in fellows’ companies. 

Activate will begin accepting applications for Cohort 2022 this fall. To learn more, go to