AI Protein Solutions Travels Across the US as a part of the ICORPS Program

By: Shaharyar Lakhani

Earlier this year, Austin Cole, Raghav Schroff, Danny Diaz, and Dr. Ross Thyer developed a machine learning algorithm to predict the identity of functional amino acids in protein sequences with high accuracy (Speeding up Evolution using AI). They have now translated this technology into a company, AI Protein Solutions.  Recently, the company and corresponding team of inventors was selected to be a part of the ICORPs Program of the National Science Foundation (NSF), which prepares scientists and engineers to get their products from the laboratory to the market. “The technologies that we as engineers come up with and the products we design are far short of a company,” explained Austin Cole. “The ICORPS Program introduced us to factors involved in taking our product and turning it into a commercial endeavor, such as finding competitors, reaching customers, and other business networking skills.” In 7 weeks time, the team flew around the country on 9 trips and ultimately interviewed 66 companies relevant to their product.  These trips provided insights into many of the problems that AI Protein Solutions hopes to solve, and the team believes it can use the advanced neural network they have generated to improve the structure and function of enzyme catalysts for textile, agricultural, bioprocessing, and therapeutics applications.  While the exact individuals and companies the team spoke with remain confidential, they found productive and active partnerships, and are in the process of starting work with them. “We came out of the program with a better understanding of how to bridge the gap between the business side and the technical side,” The experience gained through the ICORPs Program was invaluable, and according to Cole while “there is no business training for technical individuals, and while being tech savvy is important, learning about business mechanics is essential when making a company.  While the quality of your product is obviously important, the trust that the company confides in you and the relationships that you build are most essential, since they will be trusting you to solve their problems.”