University of Pennsylvania Freshmen Win $50,000 Perlman Grand Prize for their Sustainable Biopharma & Drinking Water Testing Solution at Venture Lab Startup Challenge

ToxiSense, 2021 Venture Lab Startup Challenge

HILADELPHIA, MAY 3, 2022 – The University of Pennsylvania’s Venture Lab is pleased to announce the winner of the sixth annual Startup Challenge, sponsored by Eric Aroesty, C’92: ToxiSense, co-founded by a team of four University of Pennsylvania freshmen, Aravind Krishnan, C’25, W’25; Udit Garg, ENG’25; Andrew Diep-Tran, W’25; and Aarush Sahni, C’25. The Startup Challenge was held on April 29, 2022 at Tangen Hall, the University of Pennsylvania’s hub for student entrepreneurship and innovation.

Left to right: Rob Goergen, WG’00, Founder and Chairman of G5 Capital; Udit Garg, ENG’25; Andrew Diep-Tran, W’25; Aravind Krishnan, C’25, W’25; and Aarush Sahni, C’25.

ToxiSense aims to improve the endotoxin testing required for drinking water and biopharma products through genetically engineering plants with bioluminescent properties. Biopharmaceutical products and drinking water must be tested for endotoxins, the sickness-causing molecule from bacteria. The current method relies on expensive horseshoe crab blood and is environmentally damaging. ToxiSense genetically engineered the Arabidopsis plant to luminesce based on the endotoxin concentration applied to it, serving as a sustainable, cost-effective solution.