This past year, Kylee Marks served as a graduate student researcher for Estrigenix Therapeutics, one of the start-ups that CU Ventures is newly supporting.

Concordia has launched a new initiative to help turn the innovative ideas bred on campus into genuine entrepreneurial opportunities.

CU Ventures connects students and faculty with the capital, mentoring, and other resources needed to help turn ideas into real-world business enterprises. Concordia, meanwhile, retains a financial stake in the new company.

“It’s a win-win,” says Curt Gielow, CU Ventures executive vice president.

“Universities are facing increased financial pressures, so the need to explore alternative revenue models is greater than ever.”

In addition to Gielow, the CU Ventures leadership team is made up of Dr. Daniel Sem, president of CU Ventures and dean of Concordia’s Batterman School of Business, and Rev. Dr. Roy Peterson, board chairman and president of the Concordia University Foundation.

Much like any other fledgling business, CU Ventures is still in the start-up stage, but already there are a handful of ventures in the works. One of those, Estrigenix Therapeutics, is a pharmaceutical company cofounded by Sem and collaborators from two other Wisconsin universities. The company’s founders developed a chemical compound that reduces hot flashes and the occurrence of dementia in women.

Just this past summer, the promising start-up placed second in a statewide business plan competition. During the competition, Kylee Marks (’21) presented to a panel of venture capitalists/judges on behalf of Estrigenix. Marks took on marketing for Estrigenix as part of her senior thesis project. She graduated from Concordia in May with double master’s degrees in product development (pharmaceutical concentration) and business administration.

“Being a part of the Estrigenix team has provided me with invaluable experience,” says Marks. “I have had the opportunity to learn from three incredibly knowledgeable individuals whose passion for improving women’s health is truly inspirational. I am excited for the potential impact this drug will have on women and their future generations.”

Read more and learn how you can get involved at

Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the fall 2021 issue of Hearts Together, a Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor Special Magazine edition. The fall/winter issue hit mailboxes in early October. View a PDF version of the magazine here. If you are not on our mailing list, but are interested in receiving a free copy, email

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