CIC’s global community spans three continents and nearly every industry — but one thing our diverse member companies have in common is a burning desire to make an impact. From nonprofits advocating for greater equity in their local communities to biotech startups developing treatments for rare diseases, CIC-based organizations around the world celebrated some serious wins in 2021. Below, we highlight just some of these moments that made us cheer and reminded us why we believe in our work of supporting innovators. Read on to get inspired as we head in 2022.
Earlier during this holiday season, people all around the United States participated in #GivingTuesday, a movement to unleash the power of radical generosity, by making charitable contributions to organizations they believe in. Of the donations made on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, $3M was transacted via Givebutter, a fundraising platform that empowers changemakers to make the world a better (or “butter,” as they delightfully call it) place. With offices at CIC Cambridge, Givebutter has become the top-rated free platform of its kind, and its cofounders (Liran Cohen, Max Friedman, and Ari Krasner, pictured above) were together named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in the Social Impact category.
2. OBE Power
As climate change becomes increasingly felt and discussed, there is growing interest in technologies that can help to mitigate its effects. One of these technologies, of course, is the electric vehicle, and this year CIC Miami-based OBE Power helped to make these vehicles more prevalent in their community. In partnership with Miami-Dade County, they launched a public electric vehicle charging program, which equips public parking facilities with smart charging stations. Mayor Daniella Levine Cava credited the project with “[eliminating] one of the barriers that discourage people from transitioning” to battery-powered vehicles by allowing public access to conveniently located and affordable charging stations.
3. Carisma Therapeutics
The quest for better cancer treatments continues, and at the forefront of this innovation is Carisma Therapeutics. A member of CIC Philadelphia, Carisma develops immunotherapies that harness the power of engineered macrophages (for the uninitiated, a macrophage is a type of white blood cell that identifies and digests dangerous cells in the body). In January, the company announced a $47M Series B, brought up to $59M with a second closing in March. Around the same time, the first in-human study of Carisma’s CAR-Macrophage technology began at the University of Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, Carisma engaged in several collaborations in 2021, including with Dr. Bruce Blazar and Merck.
In Cambridge, another CICer tackles cancer from a different angle. That company is Vysioneer, a global leader in utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) towards cancer care. In April, Vysioneer announced that it received FDA clearance for its tumor auto-contouring solution in radiation therapy, the first technology of its kind. Powered by a deep learning algorithm, the AI tool, known as VBrain, serves as a “second set of eyes and hands for clinicians,” as Vysioneer describes it. This allows for greater precision in cancer treatment and therapy follow-up examinations, and facilitates tumor response assessment in clinical trials.
5. She Matters
Nike said to “just do it,” and that’s exactly what She Matters did in 2021. Residing at CIC Rotterdam, She Matters empowers companies and international talent on both sides of the hiring process with recruitment support and career readiness training. In May, the organization announced it was partnering with Nike to grow its Lotus Flower Programme, a nine-week program aimed at preparing women of refugee and migrant backgrounds to successfully enter the Dutch labor market through upskilling, mentorship, and employment opportunities. The impacts of She Matters’ approach have been felt already as alumni have gone on to land roles at major companies. Kudos to Lula and Marwa on joining Patagonia!
6. Housing Navigator
In 2021, Boston again ranked as one of the most expensive cities in the US (after San Francisco and New York) as the entire state of Massachusetts experiences a housing crisis marked by soaring costs and high demand. In response, Housing Navigator Massachusetts released a free online tool this summer that simplifies the search for affordable rentals. Since launching, the site has brought in more than 24,000 visitors from across Massachusetts, many of them from communities impacted by racial and economic inequality. Strong adoption by older adults (11% of users are ages 65+) has been another sign of success to the Housing Navigator team, which works out of AGENCY, a community at CIC Cambridge dedicated to technologies that support healthy aging. Just this month, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts announced its intention to require all new state-funded housing to be listed on Housing Navigator, increasing access and transparency around affordable housing availability.
In an increasingly digitized world, telehealth is the wave of the future, and thanks to a certain global pandemic, the future has very much arrived. One of the companies working to make this remote care world a healthier one is HealthSnap, based out of CIC Miami. An integrated Virtual Care Platform, HealthSnap enables remote chronic condition management for improved patient outcomes, as well as ease of use and diversified revenue streams for providers. In January, the company announced a $4M funding round, followed by another $5M round in November that will go towards expanding its clinical services and R&D for expanded clinical use cases.
8. Dream Builders 4 Equity
What’s in a name? Everything, if you’re Dream Builders 4 Equity. The St. Louis-based CICer focuses on community development through growing equity for youth, business, residents, and real estate. In 2021, its locally-rooted commitment to economic sustainability and social engagement led to multiple big ticket contributions, including a five-year, $1M grant through the Little Pebble Foundation and $100K in grants from the Regions Foundation to support homeownership. Meanwhile, DB4E cofounder Neal Richardson was nominated in June by Mayor Tishaura Jones to take over as Executive Director of the St. Louis Development Corporation, the economic development arm of the City of St. Louis. As 2021 winds down, the DB4E team is hard at work raising funds for #HydePark2025, a large-scale project to employ local youth and BIPOC contractors in rehabbing properties and building community resources in the Hyde Park neighborhood.
From phishing scams to data leaks, cyber attacks are increasingly common nowadays. Coupled with the rise of remote work, demand for data protection is growing. That’s where CIC Warsaw member Sagenso comes in. The company takes a comprehensive approach to building up organizational defenses to these vulnerabilities. Their CyberStudio platform acts like a virtual IT security consultant, employing automation features, constant analysis, and AI algorithms to monitor and manage companies’ cybersecurity. In 2021, Sagenso received a notable vote of confidence in the form of $500K in venture funding from Satus Starter.
Every day, countless photos of food are shared on social media; meanwhile, over 40 million people in the US don’t know where their next meal will come from. The bridge between this gap is called GiftAMeal, a socially conscious dining app that provides a meal to someone in need for each meal photo taken at a partner restaurant. In 2021, the CIC St. Louis-based GiftAMeal reached 800K free meals provided through partnerships with 290 restaurants. Interestingly, a case study published by the organization showed that customers using the app, on average, spend 11% more per check, return 51% more frequently, and tip 49% more than other customers. Establishing itself as a growing force for good, the GiftAMeal team landed $500K in funding in June, including a $100K Growth Grant from Arch Grants. The founder and CEO behind this meal-for-meal model, Andrew Glantz, was named to Forbes’ Next 1000.