Illinois ECE alumni named in CNBC's 2020 Disruptor 50 list


Joseph Park, Illinois ECE

CNBC Disruptor 50
CNBC Disruptor 50

Two Illinois ECE alumni have leadership positions at companies appearing on the eighth annual CNBC Disruptor 50 list, which identifies companies making major breakthroughs in billion-dollar movements, changing business and market competition in fields including health IT, logistics/delivery, fintech, and agriculture.

36 of the disruptors have already reached or passed $1 billion in valuation. 37 have hired new employees since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and 19 have changed or launched products to face the new challenges of the pandemic.

Tyler Ralston (MS '04, PhD '06) is the co-founder of Butterfly Network, a startup that is minimizing the costs of medical imaging. According to CNBC, the Butterfly iQ's ultrasound-on-a-chip is a semiconductor wafer that is the size of a razor but can be used to scan an entire body. In comparison to conventional ultrasound machines which can run up to $20,000, the Butterfly iQ only costs about $2,000.

Their product has been used by hundreds of doctors in the COVID-19 pandemic due to its portability and convenience for cleaning between patients. Furthermore, Butterfly Network has also "introduced assistive tools" such as telemedicine which allows medical practitioners to use mobile devices for remote analyses of scans, an immensely useful tool in the pandemic. 

Ravi Thakkar (BSEE '07) is the Chief Product Officer of Impossible Foods, a company that aims to eliminate the need for animals in the food production system by 2035. The company plans on using plants to create meat, dairy,  and fish products. Their iconic Impossible Burger "sizzles, smells and cooks just like beef," but is made from plants and does not contain any gluten, animal hormones, antibiotics, or cholesterol. 

Although their restaurant business slowed down during the pandemic, their retail business has grown exponentially. Impossible Foods is looking to introduce the new and improved Impossible Burger 2.0 in around 3,000 grocery stores across the United States. Among their most famous products, the Impossible Whopper and the Impossible Croissan'wich are available at all Burger Kings across the country. 

Read more from the CNBC Disruptor 50 list here