Dino Martis, CEO, Genexia

Genexia develops AI-powered solutions that can help businesses achieve cost savings, increased revenue and gains in market share. The tech behind the company was created by Dr. Kelly Cohen and Dr. Anoop Sathyan at the University of Cincinnati (UC). Dino Martis, the company’s CEO, spoke to us about what the company does and how it came to be.

Tell us about Genexia’s origins.

Martis: Dr. Cohen is the interim department head of aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati and America’s aerospace engineer. He has been involved in artificial intelligence (AI) for the last 35 years and has a deep understanding of AI technology. [You can learn more about Dr. Cohen in the interview we did last week.]

I first met him at the UC’s Innovation Hub. They asked me to come in to see whether this innovation of Dr. Kelly and Dr. Anoop Sathyan had merit. I was immediately struck by the AI models they’d created.

There were important questions that needed answers, though. Could we commercialize it? Would it bring value to our city and to our community? Subsequently, I spoke to Dr. Cohen to understand if there was a desire to bring this out of academia, start a company and provide employment to people. The answer was a resounding ‘yes.’

It’s not always easy to get academia on the commercialization bus.

Martis: A lot of academics are very research-focused. Dr. Cohen was incredibly interested in research, but he was equally as interested in creating value out of what they had created.

It made me want to start the company, because I understood very early how powerful this AI model was and how good the team was in generating solutions.

What part did UC’s Innovation Hub play in the company’s trajectory?

Martis: The Innovation Hub played a huge role in allowing this to happen. They provided the funding, marketing and, most importantly, the opportunities. They have a team there that actually goes out and solicits large- and medium-sized corporations to create opportunities for the companies that have graduated from the Innovation Hub.

What industries does Genexia serve and how?

Martis: The first is health. We are currently involved in two health-related opportunities. I can’t go into details, because we are currently pursuing patents for both of those APIs. We don’t do diagnostics, but we can determine the risk for a particular form of cancer in an individual patient. Then the clinical team supporting that patient can affect clinical interventions to arrest the disease progression, thereby enhancing patient care and quality of life. We can say, in a year and a half, based on this patient’s clinical patterns, we think that he [or she] will develop some form of lung cancer. What interventions do we [initiate] today to either arrest that or to push it down the road?

We also work in the aerospace industry, developing prognostics and health management for engines. As engines run, they degrade. As they degrade, you have breakdowns and incur extra costs. We are able to predict when an engine is going to start degrading over a curve. We can now establish schedules for maintenance, so we’re not waiting for that engine to degrade to such a level where major maintenance is needed.

Importantly, the exact components of the engine that have degraded and need replacements are immediately identified. So techs are not searching for what is wrong with the engine; they know what’s wrong with the engine because of us.

You mentioned UC’s Innovation Hub as being extremely helpful in launching the company. What are other advantages of basing this business in Cincinnati?

Martis: First, Cincinnati is a very welcoming city. When I immigrated to this country in 1978, I came directly to Cincinnati. My entire career in America has been [here]. I was treated with kindness, and that’s incredibly important. My wife was born in Cincinnati. She has lived here all her life, [and so have] my children. I have two daughters and a son, and they’re all very involved in the city.

It’s an incredibly startup-friendly city. We have investors, entrepreneurs and creatives. Because Ohio is strong and stable, the city invites and attracts a lot of these sorts of people. It’s getting stronger and stronger by the day.

We also have incredible universities and high schools, which create very strong talent, not only in technology but also in business and health care. You name it, and we’ve got it here.

It has become sort of like a fable, with everyone thinking you should go to Silicon Valley if you want to have a successful technology startup. I don’t believe that to be the case. The cost of living in Silicon Valley is more than double what it is here in Cincinnati. As a startup, you’re worried about your burn rate and what your runway is for the amount of money you have to develop certain products. It’s much easier to handle all of that in Cincinnati.