ECE ILLINOIS Professors' startup makes Top 10 list for two years running

10/28/2019 Allie Arp, CSL

For the last two years, ECE ILLINOIS Professors Sanjay Patel, Minh Do, and Wen-mei Hwu have been featured in Crain's Chicago Business Top 10 Most Innovative Companies List.

Written by Allie Arp, CSL

An achievement for any company is to appear in one of Crain’s Chicago Business’s Top 10 lists. Personify, a deep technology company developed by ECE ILLINOIS Professors Sanjay Jeram Patel, Sony Faculty Scholar, Wen-mei HwuAMD Jerry Sanders Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Minh N Do, has made the Top 10 Crain’s Chicago Business Most Innovative Companies List two years running.


Wen-Mei Hwu, co-founder of Personify
Wen-Mei Hwu, co-founder of Personify

Crain’s Chicago Business is a popular resource for the latest news and information on business happenings in Chicago, and produces a variety of lists reviewing Chicago companies from the ‘Best Places to Work’ to ‘Who’s Who in Chicago Business.’ Making one of these lists provides a company with wide-spread exposure within Chicago and throughout the Midwest, and adds significant prestige to the company’s work.


“I still get emails from people for making the list last year,” said Sanjay Patel, Personify co-founder and CSL Professor. “To be on the list two years in a row is incredibly meaningful.”


Minh Do, co-founder of Personify
Minh Do, co-founder of Personify

Patel said one of the reasons Personify has managed to stay near the top of the list is because of their commitment to develop new technology for immersive and volumetric video. In addition, they received a number of patents in the past year for their latest technology. They are also in the business of creating and licensing technology in addition to products.


Personify’s flagship technology is a virtual green screen that has been licensed extensively by mobile device vendors, PC companies, and video conferencing providers.

“Most of us in the College of Engineering understand what it takes to create technology and are less interested in creating products, particularly consumer products,” said Patel. “That’s a different kind of skill and requires a different kind of infrastructure. To get recognized for technology creation is super meaningful.”


Sanjay Patel, co-founder of Personify
Sanjay Patel, co-founder of Personify

Crain’s isn’t the only one recognizing the innovation happening within Personify. The company was recently acquired by a multinational tech company. The specific company will be announced closer to the end of 2019, but the new company plans to maintain Personify’s team, technology, and product portfolio.


“The fact that Personify persisted for ten years in Illinois, and remained was focused on technology creation and has now been acquired is a success story,” said Patel. “This can be done in Illinois, this isn’t just happening in Silicon Valley. This kind of thing happens all the time in out in the West Coast, the fact that we made it happen here is what I personally find extremely rewarding.”

Crain's full list of Most Innovative Companies of 2019 is available here. Do is also affiliated with the Beckman Institute and the CSL. Hwu and Patel are both affiliated with the CSL.

Check out the original article on the CSL site.

Share this story

This story was published October 28, 2019.