Eight new startup companies from NYC Media Lab Combine launch ventures leveraging cutting-edge emerging media technologies

Supported by the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, NYCEDC and NYC Media Lab Member companies, the Combine is New York City’s premier pan-university media accelerator program

Media Contact: Alexis Avedisian, alexis@nycmedialab.org


NEW YORK —April 5th, 2019 —NYC Media Lab Combine, a venture platform to advance entrepreneurship in emerging media technology, will wrap its fourth annual university accelerator today with a demo event for corporate executives, investors and university stakeholders. The eight participating startups in the 2019 cohort were selected in January from NYC Media Lab’s consortium of universities, and received $10,000 in startup grant funding to accelerate into an intensive, 12-week market validation and customer discovery program. At the Demo Day, teams will pitch their innovative startup concepts, reflecting technology applications in industries like healthcare, retail, media, and financial services.

The Combine university accelerator matches faculty and students working on new technologies emerging from universities with a lean process to advance customer discovery and business model generation. Its goal is to help entrepreneurs and innovative companies take advantage of NYC Media Lab's community and the City's thriving technology ecosystem. The program is made possible with the support of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, the New York City Economic Development Corporation, and NYC Media Lab’s corporate membership.

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NYC Media Lab holds a proven track record in training emerging entrepreneurs to advance early-stage ideas and prototypes into startup ventures with the support of its corporate members and community of Mentors and Investors. For the first time, the Combine has selected teams of researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Columbia University Medical Center, the New York State Psychiatric Institute, and King’s College who are building companies that span combating human vision loss with virtual reality to making brain science consumer friendly.  This year's cohort has also seen a particular interest in emerging technologies like virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and blockchain.  

“The mission of NYC Media Lab is to drive engagement between institutions of higher education and the City’s industries to encourage the next generation of talent,” said Justin Hendrix, Executive Director of NYC Media Lab. “The Combine continues to work towards achieving a resilient entrepreneurial ecosystem in New York City.”

In addition to participating in the university accelerator program, faculty and students receive mentorship from experienced industry professionals in a supportive environment. Combine Mentors share knowledge and wisdom about how to grow and scale a business while maintaining focus on a set of value propositions and customer segments. Combine Mentors gain access to meetings, activities and private events such as today’s Demo Day.


To mark the fourth cohort, NYC Media Lab launched Founder Stories, a new editorial series  that encourages Combine startup founders to share their journey while starting a company. On the platform, the 2019 cohort have each detailed their target markets, core technologies, and use cases. Founder Stories will soon grow to support Combine alumni as they continue to find success in New York City and beyond. Since the first class of Combine startups graduated in 2016, over 40% of the companies are still active and pursuing market traction. The 13 teams that are still active have raised over $6 million in venture capital, angel funding, governmental grants, prizes and other awards. In the past couple of years, four Combine alumni companies, Vidrovr, Braiq, Geopipe and Acculis have graduated from Techstars. In 2017, Vidrovr raised $1.25 million in seed funding. Other alumni such as Street Smarts VR, Aduri and Ovee are continuing with bootstrapping their ventures with customer pilots.  

Combine Demo Day will take place today, Friday, April 5th, 8:30AM-11:30AM at The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at New York Public Radio, 44 Charlton Street, New York, NY, 10014. Reporters and members of the press are welcome to attend, or contact Alexis Avedisian at (alexis@nycmedialab.org) for more information on the Combine.

A list of participating teams and their affiliations are included below.  



Canairy is a platform to monitor changes in respiratory health for patients with chronic respiratory diseases.
Universities: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; Carnegie Mellon University; Cornell University; New York University; and The New School.
Team Members: Rayees Rahman, Chi-Chi Bello, Emily Wang, Amy Lei, Flora Wu, Jennifer Hsieh, Alexandra De Rosa.

DeepViz helps build explainable and interpretable machine learning products and services.
University: NYU Tandon School of Engineering.
Team Members: Parvez Kose, Alberto Chierici.

eWitness is a platform for journalists, investigators and activists to prove authenticity of digital photo/video evidence they capture using their smart phone cameras, so that their audience can be assured that "seeing is indeed believing".
Universities: CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice; and NYU Tandon School of Engineering.
Team Members: Shweta Jain, Nasir Memon, Priyanka Samanta, Kumar Ramansenthil.

My Brain and Me is a digital media platform that makes neuroscience and psychology personal and accessible — our first tool allows users to manage and explore their brain scan data and contribute to mental health research.
Universities: Columbia University Medical Center; and New York State Psychiatric Institute.
Team Members: Spiro Pantazatos, Mike Schmidt, Katie Surrence.

Retina Technologies seeks to both increase access to visual testing in medical resource-limited settings and improve patient experiences in urban ophthalmologist environments by leveraging the capabilities of virtual reality.
University: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
Team Members: Aashay Patel, Andrew Warburton, Randal Serafini, Aly Valliani, Pinkey Patel.

Store Buddy provides augmented reality based indoor navigation and promotion solutions to enhance the customer experience in supermarkets.
University: NYU Tandon School of Engineering.
Team Members: Abhimanyu Dhawan, Kush Shah, Zafir Hasan, Norman Green, Su-Ping Yu.

Swift is a web application that helps with meeting preparation and integrates into existing meeting scheduling workflows to create agenda-driven meetings.
University: NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program.
Team Members: Mengzhen Xiao, Lin Zhang.

Vett creates trust and verification tools that make citizens more savvy about news and news providers more transparent with the public.
University: The King’s College McCandlish Phillips Journalism Institute.
Team Members: Peter Freeby, Brian Ourien, Princess Jones, Paul Glader.

Bloc is an AI powered learning management platform that equips workforce training organizations with smart career tools and data insights as they prepare talent for the future of work.
University: New York University Law School.
Team Members: Riley Jones, Amina Yamusah.