Startup Panel

Meet this year's startup panelists!

Aadeel Akhtar


Dr. Akhtar received his PhD in Neuroscience and MS in Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2016. He is a member of the Bretl Research Group and currently holds an NIH National Research Service Award MD/PhD Fellowship. He received his BS in Biology in 2007 and MS in Computer Science in 2008 at Loyola University Chicago. His research interests include motor control and sensory feedback for upper limb prosthetic devices, and he has established collaborations with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, the John Rogers Research Group at Northwestern University, and the Range of Motion Project in Guatemala and Ecuador. He is the Co-Founder and CEO of PSYONIC, a startup whose mission is to develop advanced neurally-controlled prosthetic hands—the first with sensory feedback—at a tenth the cost of state-of-the-art commercially available prostheses, for those who need them around the world.

Daniel Gardner


Danny is a senior in Electrical Engineering at UIUC, graduating in May 2016. He’s a TA for ECE Senior Design and a member of the Hoeft Technology & Management program. He’s had the opportunity to work on RF design teams at Chamberlain and Fitbit, hardware design at Oceancomm, and product management at Philips Lighting. His senior design project – bringing low-cost communication infrastructure to developing countries with mesh networks – joined the iVenture Accelerator in June 2016. Mesh++ takes advantage of recent cost reductions in IoT technology to spread e-commerce and educational resources around the world. As the CTO, he designs the networking hardware and guides future development. Danny plans to continue working on Mesh++ while pursuing a master’s degree in electrical engineering with a focus on wireless communications hardware.

Swarnav Pujari

TouchLight Innovations

Swarnav Pujari is a sophomore in Material Science and Engineering with a focus in electronic materials at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has 6 years of materials optimization experience and internationally recognized for his work for creating a patented, highly affordable process and scale-up design in the field of electronic materials. He is also a startup consultant, working with entrepreneurs and providing guidance in technology, management, operations and strategy. He is known for his public speaking and has delivered a keynote address at the W!SE QLI competition hosted at the Museum of American Finance. His work & accomplishments have led him to be recognized as the #1 Student Entrepreneur in Chicago. Pujari is the CEO and Founder of TouchLight Innovations – a pioneer in harvesting ambient energy to power our daily use tools – set to launch in 2017.