Register for the Fermilab Innovation Lecture Series: Science, People, Markets: How Startups Win

The Office of Partnerships and Technology Transfer is sponsoring a virtual lecture series in entrepreneurship and commercialization. This series will include successful entrepreneurs, who will tell their stories about taking technologies from a lab to the market. Other topics will include innovative models for lab-industry collaboration from other DOE national laboratories.

All Fermilab personnel, users, students and guest researchers are invited to participate in this series. 


This webinar will take place on Dec. 16 from 2-3 p.m. CST via Zoom.

Register here for Science, People, Markets: How Startups Win


Summary: What does it take to build business success from a research-driven innovation? Technology and engineering are crucial, and they are not enough. We’ll explore other factors that help a lab discovery become a product embraced by the market and how the public sector looks to foster innovation for local startup communities.


Guest lecturers Joe Aguilar and Mark Aardsma will provide their perspectives and engage in a Q&A with Fermilab attendees.

In advance of the presentation, attendees should consider:

1) How can you identify the commercial potential of new technology?

2) What should you consider when forming your team? What skillsets are necessary? What roles make sense?

3) What should you learn about potential customers before you commit to a strategy?

4) What resources are available to entrepreneurs in Illinois?



Joe Aguilar, director of investment analysis and due diligence, Illinois State Treasury

As director of investment analysis and due diligence at the Illinois State Treasury, Aguilar’s duties include overseeing all externally managed investment portfolios managed by the Treasurer’s Office, equating to approximately $14 billion in assets. His purview includes investment programs for the Illinois Growth and Innovation Fund, a $1-billion impact investment fund, two 529 college savings plans, the state’s Achieving a Better Life Experience program and the Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program. Aguilar is responsible for the oversight and implementation of the manager selection process, assessment and monitoring of all external public- and private-market investment managers including venture, private equity and private credit managers invested through the office’s platforms.

Aguilar holds a B.S. in finance and business & commerce from Aurora University and an M.S. in finance from the University of Miami’s Herbert Business School.


Mark Aardsma, managing partner, First Leaf Capital, LLC

Before becoming an investor, Aardsma launched and led three startups to success. From an engineering base, he leaned on a combination of mentors and don’t-do-that-again moments to learn leadership, management and marketing skills along the way. His firm invests in technology transfer startups at the University of Illinois and in other startups in the Midwest.


Register here for Science, People, Markets: How Startups Win