ACA Honors Angel-Financed Innovation with the Prestigious Luis Villalobos Award

Atlantic City, NJ (May 18, 2022) – Recognizing the most ingenious and innovative ideas recently financed by members of the Angel Capital Association, the prestigious Luis Villalobos Award was recently awarded to two companies disrupting their fields. Recognized were Healionics, a company making dialysis safer for those in kidney failure in the Life Sciences category, and Tilt, a company revolutionizing employee leave management in the workplace, in the Technology, Services and Consumer category.

“Tilt is a particularly compelling investment, given the founders’ direct experience with the problem they are trying to solve and now their model is extremely relevant, given the Great Resignation has companies seeking new ways to retain and manage employees,” said Cathy Connett, CEO of Sofia Fund, Tilt investor and nominator for the award.

The two category-winning CEOs were honored live during the annual awards ceremony at ACA’s 2022 Summit, the leading annual event for angel investors.

“In 2018, Healionics pitched to Mid Atlantic Bio Angels and we very quickly realized the strength of Mike Connolly and his team and their focus on tackling a very important unmet need in the dialysis area. When approved, their product will provide patients with an improved quality of life and lead to significant healthcare savings,” said Yaniv Sneor, Founder of Mid Atlantic Bio Angels and nominator for Healionics’ award.

2022 ACA Luis Villalobos Award Life Sciences Winner: Healionics

“Our team at Healionics is very grateful to be honored by this award as we pursue our goal of improving the lives of patients suffering from kidney failure,” said Mike Connolly, CEO & Chairman. 

Healionics aims to provide safer, more reliable bloodstream access for kidney failure patients needing regular dialysis. Their STARgraft synthetic blood vessel is designed to resist the infection and occlusion problems of current devices and thereby reduce the exorbitant treatment costs and high rates of illness and death among these patients. Human clinical studies of STARgraft are in progress. In addition, Healionics’ platform STAR biomaterial enables a diverse pipeline of future products.

2022 ACA Luis Villalobos Award Technology Winner: Tilt

“Tilt is passionate about delivering tech with a human touch to deliver a positive leave of absence experience for all, and we’re beyond ecstatic to be supported by our investors and recognized by the ACA with the Luis Villalobos Award,” said Jen Henderson, CEO & Founder of Tilt.

Tilt’s approach to managing leaves for employers and employees dramatically reduces the friction, blind spots, stigmas and unintended legal risks prevalent in today’s archaic leave of absence processes. In addition to the Sofia Fund, Tilt’s investors included several other ACA member groups including Rockies Venture Club, Nebraska Angels and Portland Seed Fund.

This award represents one of the many ways the ACA and its members fuel the success of innovative start-ups and honors Luis Villalobos, founder of Tech Coast Angels.

Learn more about the Luis Villalobos Award HERE.

About the Angel Capital Association (ACA)

The Angel Capital Association (ACA) is the professional association of angel investors across North America and offers education, best practices, data, public policy advocacy, and significant benefits and resources to its membership of more than 15,000 accredited investors, who invest individually or through its 250+ angel groups, accredited platforms, and family offices. Visit us online at

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