Alchemy is a unique environment that brings entrepreneurs, investors, corporate partners, together with students and the University community to create and incubate commercially-viable technologies.
Alchemy is not a standard incubator or accelerator for University-startups. We consider Alchemy a technology foundry. Alchemy starts with basic technology elements, with involvement of investors and corporate partners, working together with Grainger College of Engineering students to create real technology solutions to real market needs.
Teams that are formed within Alchemy spend 18 months (3 semesters plus a summer) building their technology, piloting it with potential partners and customers, with the objective to get funded as a start-up upon completion, or to be acquired by a larger company.
Alchemy teams are solving complex problems and building the necessary skills to spearhead the next wave of technology innovation. Alchemy teams work with faculty, external advisors, and partner companies to identify technologies of commercial value in AI, autonomy, robotics, mobility, AR, biotech, and other topical areas.
The incredible research and educational infrastructure at the University of Illinois accelerates teams to successfully deploy their ideas. Teams leverage research being developed by the faculty, as well as cutting edge ML and AI tools being created our grad students.
Architecture of Alchemy
Students are accepted into the Alchemy program as an annual cohort. Students are typically in their Junior, Senior years, or entering the initial semester of their M.Eng or MS programs. Alchemy is particularly suited to M.Eng students, and we intend to strengthen that connection through tighter structural alignment, discussed later. Students are expected to be in the top 15% of their peer group, demonstrated through grades or through other project experience or leadership activities.
The Alchemy experience extends across three academic semesters + 1 summer. During Semester A, students participate in a discovery process to identify projects. This discovery process is done in collaboration with people from partner companies, advisors, and faculty and researchers from the University. Teams are formed, projects are selected, and initial plans and demos are built. Semester B and the Summer constitute collectively a period of intensive technology building. During this period, teams are expected to interact with commercial partners to validate concepts and inform on progress. During Semester C, the teams are expected to start developing their Launch. Some teams will develop pitches to investors, some will shop their team and technology to prospective buyers. In either case, the Alchemy staff will support teams seeking to continue what they’ve started. Both outcomes contribute to the University’s mission and are considered to be the desired outcomes of the Alchemy experience.
Semester A: Ideas
- 6 teams of 4 or 5 students
- Rigorous selection process
- Students are typically seniors, M.Eng, MS
Semester B: Expertise
- Build, build, build!
- Engage with "customers"
- Paid Summer internship
- Demo to partners
Semester C: Launch
- Seed funding for starting up
- Alchemy "placements"
Students interested in applying to Alchemy are encouraged to apply to the Alchemy Application Site. The Application Deadlines are below:
- Fall Semester: May 15th
- Spring Semester: Oct 15th
Interested students are advised to apply only if they have completed their core CompE or EE coursework, are at least a Junior in standing, have a 3.5 GPA minimum, and are comfortable learning advanced topics by experience on their own. Students should also expect to stay on campus for 18 months during the Alchemy experience.
Converge is a team of developers who are dedicated to the goal of creating software which assists in decision making, specifically for groups.