Birmingham-based startup Astound raises $1m seed round to improve university access to corporate-sponsored research funding

Birmingham-based startup Astound raises $1m seed round to improve university access to corporate-sponsored research funding

Published: 01-06-2022 09:56:00 | By: Pie Kamau | hits: 253 | Tags:

Astound, a Birmingham-based startup, secured $1 million in seed funding to develop the first marketplace to allow research institutions and universities to easily find corporate sponsors for important scientific research.

Astound CEO and Founder Dr. Joel Berry, is a biomedical engineer with thirty years of experience in life sciences and bioengineering product development.  Astound received its $1 million in funding from Nashville-based Mark Two Ventures, a venture studio which provides startups with seed stage capital in addition to product development, software engineering, and design expertise.

Astound explains that it is developing a platform to help match university research expertise to corporate R&D needs across a broad spectrum of disciplines, from life sciences and engineering to computer science and agriculture. The Astound platform represents the first product of its kind and is focused on accelerating research and development collaborations between industry and academia.

Joel Berry, CEO and Founder, Astound: "Corporate spending on sponsored university research is approximately $80 billion globally and over $40 billion annually in the US alone. Astound will provide a platform that makes it easy and fast for companies to find and sponsor research relevant to their product development goals. Ultimately, our mission is to be a catalyst for advancing science and technology."

Berry explains that these sorts of corporate-university collaborations are mutually beneficial. "Corporate sponsorships provide critical funding for scientific research. In exchange, those corporate partners have the opportunity to commercialize the resulting patents and other valuable intellectual property." Bill Dean, Executive Director of Auburn University's Research & Technology Foundation and one of Astound's early supporters states "A tool that could provide real-time, actionable insights into what problems industry has and what they are looking for in terms of R&D support would be tremendously valuable to us." That's exactly what Astound says it hopes to provide to universities and other research institutions.

Glenn Clayton, Managing Partner, Co-founder, Mark Two Ventures: "It is rare to find such a large and important market that is still completely analog. We were inspired by Dr. Berry's mission to accelerate scientific research by using technology to improve the way universities and corporations collaborate with one another." Clayton went on to explain that Mark Two plans to provide more than just capital to support Astound's mission. "As a venture studio, we will provide Astound with access to our team of experienced product managers, software engineers, designers, and more to help them build and grow their platform."

Astound plans to have a limited launch for early beta customers later this year with a full launch of its platform in early 2023. The company is actively seeking universities and corporate research sponsors who have an interest in learning more about the platform.