UC Santa Cruz innovators among Santa Cruz Works 2022 Titans of Tech

2022 Titans of Tech finalists

Two outstanding UC Santa Cruz affiliates, Aviv Elor and Nada Miljkovic, have been chosen as finalists for the sixth annual Santa Cruz Works Titans of Tech, an event that honors industry professionals who have contributed substantially to the growth of the local tech and entrepreneurial community. The 2022 Titans of Tech will be recognized during tomorrow's award ceremony at the Santa Cruz Kuumbwa Jazz Center.

Elor, who received a B.S. degree in robotics engineering and a Ph.D. degree in computational media from UC Santa Cruz, is one of three co-founders of Immergo Labs, the world’s first virtual and interactive telehealth platform for physical therapy. Immergo uses artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) to incorporate telehealth capabilities and enhance the accessibility, experience, and accuracy of remote physical therapy care. With just a VR headset, the platform connects patients and therapists in the same virtual room, as if they were interacting live in person, allowing the therapist to track movements and range of motion and provide real-time feedback.

Immergo Labs, which is based in Santa Cruz, has secured several industry and academic partnerships and recently received a National Science Foundation Phase 1 Small Business Innovation grant to further develop and test their prototype. Immergo’s beta platform will launch next month to users on their waitlist. The team plans to launch their product to the public by the end of 2023.

Elor’s areas of expertise include human computer interaction, immersive media, wearable robotics, computing, user experience, and emerging technologies, with a focus on iSTAR, Immersive Systems Towards Assisting Reality, Recovery, and Rehabilitation. He has authored more than 20 publications and received eight fellowships and awards during his academic career at UC Santa Cruz. 

Miljkovic is a UCSC alumna, artist, educator, and entrepreneur. For more than seven years, she has taught several undergraduate-level entrepreneurship courses at UCSC’s Crown College. She also serves as the program manager for the UCSC Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Development (CIED), an industry and academic hub that fosters the teaching, research, and development of inclusive innovation and entrepreneurship.

In 2020, Miljkovic co-founded GetVirtual, an internship program that pairs college students with local businesses to support their transition to operating online, amid COVID-19’s detrimental impacts to in-person business operations. The program allows students to gain real-world experience and service learning credit, while local businesses get the website development and software support they need to be able to offer their services online. In addition to GetVirtual being offered as an in-person class at Crown College, called Crown 95: GetVirtual Business Assistance, it is now offered fully online through Coursera, expanding the community-engagement program to students throughout the UC system.

Another 2022 Titan of Tech, Leila Takayama, taught at UC Santa Cruz as an associate professor of computational media before returning to industry this year. Takayama specializes in human computer interaction and human robot interaction (HRI). She is the vice president of design and HRI at Robust.AI, where AI, robotics, and human-centered design are combined to create collaborative, mobile robots for increased workforce productivity. 

Also recognized as Titans of Tech are: Allison Steitz, head of growth and innovation at Paystand; Bates Marshall, CEO and co-founder of Ambient Photonics, Inc.; Chris Bley, co-founder and director of Monterey Bay DART and founder of AirSpace Integration; Cindi Busenhart, founder and CEO at MERGE4; Joshua Resnick, CEO/CTO at Parallel Flight Technologies; Stacy Nagel, staff program manager at Google; and Will Wiseman and Alba Forns, co-founders at Climatize.