$375,000 in state matching grants to boost 5 innovative small businesses

MADISON – Five small high-tech businesses in Wisconsin will receive up to $75,000 each to commercialize their innovations, thanks to the SBIR Advance program’s latest round of funding. 

The state matching grant program provides assistance to companies in the process of completing a project in the . This is the 11th round of SBIR Advance funding since this collaboration by the and the began in 2014.

Since then, 70 awards have been given, adding up to a little more than $5 million throughout the state. Those businesses reported hiring more than 173 employees and obtaining $22 million in additional capital since receiving the grants.

The recipients:

  • AquaMetals of Wauwatosa, which is developing the first practical, on-line, heavy-metal analyzer for industrial process control;
  • of Madison, which develops new innovations within a wide array of application areas, including infectious disease diagnostics, drug discovery and cancer biomarker development;
  • of Madison, which develops technologies to help wastewater treatment plants create valuable fertilizers from the nutrients in their wastewater;
  • of Platteville, which manufactures a one-part product specifically formulated to safely clean precision optical and aerospace surfaces with minimal surface adhesion and zero residue; and
  • of Pewaukee, which is developing affordable vacuum-insulated window glass.

“SBIR Advance plays a vital role in bridging the gap between laboratory research and a market-ready product,” said Chris Schiffner, WEDC Senior Technology Investment Manager. “This program is crucial to creating an environment in our state that welcomes new business development and attracts global investors. We want to encourage entrepreneurs to not only start their businesses in Wisconsin but to stay in Wisconsin because high-tech startup companies create family-supporting jobs.”

The U.S. government created SBIR/STTR programs to stimulate domestic high-tech innovation, providing $2.5 billion in federal research funding each year. Because those funds cannot be used for commercialization activities, the SBIR Advance program fills the gap. Funds can be used to pursue market research, customer validation, intellectual property work or other areas that speed commercialization.

SBIR Advance grant recipients receive CTC staff support available throughout the commercialization process, including Lean Startup training, business plan review and other consulting.

 “SBIR Advance continues to provide winners with needed customer validation and opportunities to solve business needs. It’s unique in the nation and has garnered recognition throughout the country,” said Dr. Todd Strother, Program Manager.

For more details on the SBIR Advance program, visit or e-mail . Solicitation is now open, with applications due in August.

SBIR Advance is part of a Start-Seed-Scale (S3) initiative WEDC is pursuing with the help of the UW System and other business leaders throughout the state to remove barriers to high-tech commercialization. Under the S3 umbrella, WEDC and its economic development partners are implementing financial and operational assistance programs designed specifically to address Wisconsin’s business startup and seed-funding challenges. Another S3 collaborative effort between WEDC and the UW System is the Ideadvance Seed Fund, also managed by UW-Extension’s CTC. Selected SBIR Advance participants undergo Ideadvance Lean Startup training that is modified to assist with their SBIR Phase II applications.

About The Center for Technology Commercialization

The Center for Technology Commercialization is a unit in the University of Wisconsin-Extension’s Division for Business and Entrepreneurship. CTC provides one-on-one expert consulting to early-stage emerging technology businesses throughout Wisconsin. CTC has collaborated in acquiring more than $100 million in federal and other funding for clients. Learn more at ; follow on Twitter.

About The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) leads economic development efforts for the state by advancing and maximizing opportunities in Wisconsin for businesses, communities and people to thrive in a globally competitive environment. Working with more than 600 regional and local partners, WEDC develops and delivers solutions representative of a highly responsive and coordinated economic development network. Learn more at ; follow on Twitter.

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Clients honored in 2018 Governor's Business Plan Contest; NovoMoto wins top prize

novomoto dave linz and mehrdad arjmand governor's business contest

MADISON -- Madison social enterprise that provides clean electricity for off-grid rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa with solar-powered systems took home the grand prize June 6, 2018, in the 15th annual

Mehrdad Arjmand, who holds a Ph.D. in engineering mechanics from the UW-Madison, presented for  during the “Diligent Dozen” track of the 2018 Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference in Madison. NovoMoto was founded by Arjmand and Aaron Olson, an engineering mechanics doctoral candidate at UW-Madison.

“NovoMoto’s model is being implemented now in the western provinces of the Congo, where the opportunity for cheaper, reliable power will improve lives and provide a profitable business platform over time for the company as it expands,” said Tom Still, president of the .

NovoMoto, which also won the contest’s Business Services category, is a Center for Technology Commercialization client but not the only among the Diligent Dozen to do well. Five other clients earned awards: Shockray Self-Defense, Pyran, AquaMetals, AmebaGone and Fast Forward Forensics.

About 30 independent judges recruited by the Tech Council heard presentations from finalists in four categories: Advanced Manufacturing, Business Services, Information Technology and Life Sciences. 

Category winners were:

  • Business Services: NovoMoto.
  • Advanced Manufacturing: Shockray Self-Defense, Oak Creek, is a combination of a pepper-spray pistol and electrical stun-gun weapon. Presenter: Lorne Forsythe, Oak Creek.
  • Information Technology: DataChat, Madison, builds chatbots that allow business users to extract insight from their data simply by talking to the chatbot. Presenter: Jignesh Patel, Madison.
  • Life Sciences: AmebaGone, Madison, is a developer of natural alternatives to antibiotics, securing crop yields for growers without chemicals and metals. Presenter: Amy Jancewicz, Madison. 

Twelve contestants emerged from three rounds of judging in the contest organized through the Wisconsin Technology Council, which produces the contest in conjunction with its partners and sponsors.

The contest began in late January with nearly 200 entries; more than 3,700 entries have been received since the contest began in 2004. This year’s finalists delivered seven-minute pitches on their business ideas during the 16th annual Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference, which was held at Madison’s Union South. 

Second- and third-place category winners were: 

Advanced Manufacturing: Pyran, Kevin Barnett, Madison; AquaMetals, Bruce Bathurst, Wauwatosa.

Business Services: Impact Sports, Joshua Cleveland, River Falls; Replace-A-Lace, Nancy Brekke-Jones, Rhinelander.

Information Technology: Swirl Insurance Services, Terry Wakefield, Mequon; Pyxsee, Dayne Rusch, Oshkosh.

Life Sciences: ReNeuroGen, Stephen Naylor, Elm Grove; Randy Nagy, Fast Forward Forensics, Madison.

New to the contest this year: Pyran also won the “Bright New Idea” award as a first-time contestant.

Finalists submitted full business plans for review by a panel of more than 110 judges established by the Tech Council, which is the non-profit and non-partisan science and technology adviser to the governor and the Legislature. Each plan described the core product or service, defined the customer base, estimated the size of the market, identified competition, described the management team and provided key financial data.

SBIR Proposals That Stand Out in the Crowd: 7 Golden Rules

This is not a rigorous treatise on proposal writing or Grantsmanship 101.  I assume you know how to read a solicitation and follow the proposal guidelines.  In fact that would be Rule Zero – Read and Follow the agency Proposal Guidelines to the letter.

Instead, here are just a few things I suggest you remember, check, and double-check.  A reviewer’s first impressions are hard to overcome.  Following these Rules will help make a good impression.

Rule : Clarity – Be Crystal Clear about Everything – The first rule of proposal writing or any writing for that matter is Clarity.  That should go without saying and should be obvious to everyone.  But apparently it isn’t.  I have reviewed hundreds of proposals that I can’t figure out what is the idea and why anyone cares about it until several pages in, or perhaps never at all.  Or how the research will be conducted by whom.  Or confusing jargon and acronyms.  You can’t convince anyone of anything if they don’t understand.  Confusion in the first few paragraphs will color the reviewer’s impression of the entire proposal.  Don’t assume reviewers know anything about the field and idea you have worked on for years.  Start out simple, then get more complex.  Give no reviewer the opportunity to be confused.  This should go without saying, but it must be said repeatedly: The first rule of proposal writing is Clarity.

Rule : Support every claim – Every claim or assertion, every statement you make needs to be backed up with something, a piece of data, a graph, an argument, a reference, a quote from a credible source.  During a review I find myself saying often: “how do they know that?”  Don’t let reviewers think that, but anticipate this question and provide the backup in your narrative.

Rule : Focus on Outcomes not Activities – I read Aims or Objectives that read like open-ended activities or studies.  The more you can focus on the outcomes to be achieved and not just the activity to be conducted, the stronger your proposal will be.  Don’t say you are studying this or optimizing that without being clear “to what end?”  Focus, focus, focus on outcomes and not activities

Rule : Solve a Problem – Again just studying or optimizing something is not very interesting unless it is solving a serious problem that someone, and preferably a lot of somebodies care about.  What problem does this solve, and who cares, and why?  SBIR projects may advance science but that is not the primary objective.  The objective is to solve a problem in a way that is commercially and societally significant.

Rule : Show Measurable, quantified milestones – Don’t just state what you propose to do but be very specific about the measurements you will make to prove that it works, and the success criteria you will use to judge whether feasibility has been definitively established.  Think about the evidence you would produce in a court of law to prove your case.  And your technology can’t just work on a technical basis, it has to work in a way that sustains a profitable business model, i.e. commercially viable.

Rule : Spell Out5 Factors of Significance – There always needs to be a compelling argument for the Significance of your proposed solution, whether the particular agency calls it Significance, or Intellectual Merit, Societal Benefit, or some other terminology.  You can make a compelling case if you can argue Significance in 5 ways.  First there is the Size of the Problem.  Then the Size of the Opportunity, i.e. how much of the Problem can your technology impact?  Next there are the advantages of your approach compared to the alternatives, how your technology overcomes the shortfalls of the alternatives, and the benefits to the users of your technology.  Not just the features that you think make it special, but the benefits and value proposition that customers derive from your proposed solution.  Fourth is the aggregate impact to the economy, public health, society, or whatever aggregate impact you can show that makes your solution especially significant.  Lastly, address the Commercial Merit of your proposed technology solution, showing that there is a reasonable path to commercialization.  These 5 factors together make up the Significance.

Rule : Organize/Highlight to clearly address the review criteria – Make it easy for the reviewer to assign good scores for each of the specific review criterion.  Even if they like your proposal, they still need to write down scores for all the various selection criteria, so don’t make them dig for it.  A low score on any criterion can drop you below the pay line.  Make it easy for the reviewer to write down a good score by organizing your document to highlight this information.  This can be done by organizing the sections or creating subheadings, or making lists, underlining, bolding, etc.  In one proposal I actually made a Table of all of the listed factors that the solicitation highlighted as significant and next to it wrote a summary of how the proposal addressed this factor completely.

I could go on and in our SBIR Training Workshops we do provide much more how-to guidance and tips.  So contact us and let us help you with your next SBIR application.

-Dave Linz, CTC

Wisconsin Phase II SBIR/STTR awardees eligible for up to $75K in SBIR Advance matching funds

 

MADISON – UW-Extension’s Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC) is offering a matching grant of up to $75,000 to provide additional assistance to companies in the process of completing a Phase II project in the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

This is the 11th round of SBIR Advance funding dedicated by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) since SBIR Advance began in 2014.

“This funding opportunity is unique in that it is open to Wisconsin Phase II SBIR/STTR winners who have identified specific business goals and milestones to help them commercialize their product.  We hope to help them achieve those goals.” said Dr. Todd Strother, CTC Senior Technology Consultant and SBIR Advance Program Manager.

Deadlines are quickly approaching:

To be , companies must have an SBIR/STTR project in Phase II of funding. All companies must be located in Wisconsin to be considered for the grant. Funds can be used for business and market development, customer validation, intellectual property work or other areas needed to speed product commercialization.

Applicants should also note these important dates:

  • May 18, 2018: Companies chosen for funding will be notified by this time.
  • June 11, 2018: Companies need to have submitted the first deliverable or risk losing their award.

For more details on the SBIR Advance program, visit  or contact Strother at .

SBIR Advance is part of a Start-Seed-Scale (S3) initiative WEDC is pursuing with the help of the UW System and other business leaders throughout the state to remove barriers to high-tech commercialization. Under the S3 umbrella, WEDC and its economic development partners are implementing financial and operational assistance programs designed specifically to address Wisconsin’s business startup and seed-funding challenges. One such initiative — also a collaborative effort between WEDC and the UW System — is the , also managed by UW-Extension’s CTC. Selected SBIR Advance participants undergo Ideadvance Lean Startup training that is modified to assist with their SBIR Phase II applications.

About the SBIR/STTR Seed Fund

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, also known as America's Seed Fund, are one of the largest sources of early-stage capital for technology commercialization in the United States. This $2.5 billion federal program, offered by 11 federal agencies, is available to domestically owned small businesses. Learn more at ; follow on Twitter.

About The Center for Technology Commercialization

The Center for Technology Commercialization is a unit in the University of Wisconsin-Extension’s Division for Business and Entrepreneurship. CTC provides one-on-one expert consulting to early-stage emerging technology businesses throughout Wisconsin. CTC has collaborated in acquiring more than $100 million in federal and other funding for clients. Learn more at ; follow on Twitter.

About The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) leads economic development efforts for the state by advancing and maximizing opportunities in Wisconsin for businesses, communities and people to thrive in a globally competitive environment. Working with more than 600 regional and local partners, WEDC develops and delivers solutions representative of a highly responsive and coordinated economic development network. Learn more at ; follow on Twitter.

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State matching grants to elevate 8 high-tech small businesses

 

 

 

 

MADISON – Eight small high-tech businesses in Wisconsin will receive up to $75,000 each to commercialize their innovations, thanks to the SBIR Advance program’s latest round of funding. 

The state matching grant program provides assistance to companies in the process of completing a project in the . This is the 10th round of SBIR Advance funding since this collaboration by the and the began in 2014.

Since then, 64 awards have been given, equaling $4.7 million throughout the state. Those businesses reported hiring more than 173 employees and obtaining $16.5 million in additional capital since receiving the grants.

The recipients:

  • of Madison. Seeks to accelerate scientific discoveries via a global standard software solution, CultureTrax, that directly addresses the critical challenges of stem cell research management, reproducibility and electronic data storage;
  • of De Pere. Specializes in the design, engineering and manufacturing of compact heat exchangers and heat exchange reactors targeted for high temperature and pressure applications such as Brayton-cycle supercritical CO2 (sCO2) power systems and process intensification for energy and chemical markets;
  • of Madison. Specializes in engineering and optimizing new diamond and diamond-like carbon (DLC) coatings for improving new application across many industries, including medical device, aerospace, defense and oil/gas;
  • . Spun out of UW-Madison. Rethinking design through state-of-the-art generative design technology that includes high-performance design analysis and next generation topology optimization;
  • of Madison. Provides high-throughput, high-performance computing software solutions in computer-aided engineering; and
  • . of Fitchburg. Developing innovative and scalable small-scale manufacturing processes based on bonding and layer transfer for fabricating advanced flexible electronics, photonics, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and semiconductor devices.
  • of Madison. Developing revolutionary natural products (such as antibiotics) by leveraging proprietary BigDNA metagenomic processes to explore the vast biodiversity in our planet’s soil;
  •  of Madison. Offering human stem cell-based products and services in drug discovery for neurological and psychiatric diseases;

The U.S. government created SBIR/STTR programs to stimulate domestic high-tech innovation, providing $2.5 billion in federal research funding each year. Because those funds cannot be used for commercialization activities, the SBIR Advance program fills the gap. Funds can be used to pursue market research, customer validation, intellectual property work or other areas that speed commercialization.

SBIR Advance grant recipients receive CTC staff support available throughout the commercialization process, including Lean Startup training, business plan review and other consulting.

“SBIR Advance provides Wisconsin companies with a unique advantage over their national competitors,” said Dr. Todd Strother, Program Manager.

For more details on the SBIR Advance program, visit or e-mail . The next solicitation opens in March, with applications due in April; details will be announced soon.

“SBIR Advance fills a critical role in bridging the gap between laboratory research and a market-ready product,” said Aaron Hagar, vice president of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at WEDC. “The business development efforts and learning supported by SBIR Advance are just as critical to the success of these companies as the initial research grant.”

SBIR Advance is part of a Start-Seed-Scale (S3) initiative WEDC is pursuing with the help of the UW System and other business leaders throughout the state to remove barriers to high-tech commercialization. Under the S3 umbrella, WEDC and its economic development partners are implementing financial and operational assistance programs designed specifically to address Wisconsin’s business startup and seed-funding challenges. Another S3 collaborative effort between WEDC and the UW System is the Ideadvance Seed Fund, also managed by UW-Extension’s CTC. Selected SBIR Advance participants undergo Ideadvance Lean Startup training that is modified to assist with their SBIR Phase II applications.

About The Center for Technology Commercialization

The Center for Technology Commercialization is a unit in the University of Wisconsin-Extension’s Division for Business and Entrepreneurship. CTC provides one-on-one expert consulting to early-stage emerging technology businesses throughout Wisconsin. CTC has collaborated in acquiring more than $100 million in federal and other funding for clients. Learn more at ; follow on Twitter.

About The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) leads economic development efforts for the state by advancing and maximizing opportunities in Wisconsin for businesses, communities and people to thrive in a globally competitive environment. Working with more than 600 regional and local partners, WEDC develops and delivers solutions representative of a highly responsive and coordinated economic development network. Learn more at ; follow on Twitter.

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Ideadvance Seed Fund pursues past and present UW System colleagues

 

 

 

 

MADISON, Wis. – Innovators with current or past ties to the UW System are invited to apply to the Ideadvance Seed Fund with business ideas that could contribute to Wisconsin’s “knowledge economy.” 

The Ideadvance program provides business funding and mentoring toward a scalable, profitable business model. Grant dollars are earned by teams after they demonstrate key learnings toward their commercialization goals.                                                              

have gone to a range of ideas, including an and a small, simple

The deadline to apply is April 27. Diverse teams from all parts of Wisconsin are invited to connect early with the program to take advantage of resources that can guide them through the application process. An introductory video is available as well as hands-on assistance from Ideadvance consultants. 

The program is open to UW System staff, faculty, students and alumni. At this time, teams consisting of only UW-Madison founders are not able to apply. However, hybrid teams with founders from UW-Madison and other UW System schools are welcome to compete. 

Ideadvance, launched in 2014, has awarded grants to 49 Stage 1 teams and 16 Stage 2 teams, totaling over $1.8 million in funding. Stage 1, with funding up to $25,000, focuses on achieving commercialization milestones to reduce risk and determine need in the marketplace to solve a problem. Stage 2, with follow-on funding up to $50,000, helps a select few to advance their business models to deliver customer solutions and attract investors. 

“We try to help teams assess their ideas to determine if an idea really is a good business,” Ideadvance New Idea Concierge Idella Yamben said. “These methods help awardees learn if their ideas really solve a significant problem for the customer.” 

Dale Trudell, co-founder of a software solution to improve literacy teaching standards, was astounded by the support from the Ideadvance program and staff. Through numerous Minimum Viable Products, the Appleton company found chances to speak to their clients and test ideas. 

“Ideadvance forced us to get out of the office to prove or disprove our assumptions. This taught us to pivot. We’ve pivoted half-dozen times already, and, thanks to Ideadvance, we were successful without spinning our wheels,” Trudell said. 

Awards are determined by an Investment Committee with representatives from UW System, WiSys Technology Foundation, UW-Extension, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and an entrepreneur affiliated with an eligible UW campus. The committee selects competitive proposals with a compelling case for a significant solution to a market problem and a dedicated team focused on learning about risks to their business model. The committee also focuses on the skills of the team and how well-prepared they are to tackle this learning. 

Although high-tech ideas are welcome, entrepreneurs do not need to present a biotech or IT technology. The types of eligible businesses are very broad, including ideas in agriculture, manufacturing, music production, textiles, art or business. The only restrictions are that the business cannot be in real estate, direct consumer retail or hospitality, including restaurants.

Ideadvance is part of WEDC’s efforts to expand collaboration with the UW System, business leaders and others throughout the state. Through their special S3 initiative, WEDC is working to remove commercialization barriers entrepreneurs face by providing financial and operational assistance that address business startup and seed-funding challenges.  

“We see Ideadvance as a core component of generating interest in entrepreneurship and startups outside the major metro areas,” said Aaron Hagar, vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation for WEDC. “We’re hearing a lot of interest from local partners, and Ideadvance is a great conduit for helping local ideas get connected with state, national and global networks.” 

To apply, go to . For more information, contact Idella Yamben, New Idea Concierge, at or 608-263-3315.

 

About The Center for Technology Commercialization

The Center for Technology Commercialization is a unit in the University of Wisconsin-Extension’s Division for Business & Entrepreneurship. CTC provides one-on-one expert consulting to early-stage emerging technology businesses throughout Wisconsin. CTC has collaborated in acquiring more than $100 million in federal and other funding for clients. Learn more at ; follow on Twitter.

About The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

WEDC leads economic development efforts for the state by providing resources, operational support and financial assistance to companies, partners and communities in Wisconsin. Working with more than 600 partners across the state, including regional economic development organizations, academic institutions and industry clusters, WEDC develops and delivers solutions that help businesses, communities and people maximize their potential In Wisconsin. Learn more at ; follow on Twitter.

SBIR Advance matching grant applications due in January

MADISON – UW-Extension’s Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC) is offering a matching grant of up to $75,000 to provide additional assistance to companies in the process of completing a project in the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

This is the 10th round of SBIR Advance funding dedicated by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) since SBIR Advance began in 2014.

“These funds continue to help SBIR companies do critical business-related activities that accelerate their commercialization and ultimately benefit the Wisconsin economy,” said Dr. Todd Strother, CTC Senior Technology Consultant and SBIR Advance Program Manager.

Deadlines are quickly approaching:

To becompanies must have an SBIR/STTR project in either Phase I or Phase II of funding. All companies must be located in Wisconsin to be considered for the grant. Funds can be used for business and market development, customer validation, intellectual property work or other areas needed to speed product commercialization.

Applicants should also note these important dates:

  • Jan. 25, 2018: Companies chosen for funding will be notified by this time.
  • Feb. 15, 2018: Phase I Match awardees must be prepared to start the . The course runs through May 10 and is administered by the CTC. It teaches companies how to incorporate their technologies into a validated business model and defines the best possible target markets.

For more details on the SBIR Advance program, visit or contact Strother at .

SBIR Advance is part of a Start-Seed-Scale (S3) initiative WEDC is pursuing with the help of the UW System and other business leaders throughout the state to remove barriers to high-tech commercialization. Under the S3 umbrella, WEDC and its economic development partners are implementing financial and operational assistance programs designed specifically to address Wisconsin’s business startup and seed-funding challenges. One such initiative — also a collaborative effort between WEDC and the UW System — is the , also managed by UW-Extension’s CTC. Selected SBIR Advance participants undergo Ideadvance Lean Startup training that is modified to assist with their SBIR Phase II applications.

 

About The Center for Technology Commercialization

The Center for Technology Commercialization is a unit in the University of Wisconsin-Extension’s Division for Business and Entrepreneurship. CTC provides one-on-one expert consulting to early-stage emerging technology businesses throughout Wisconsin. CTC has collaborated in acquiring more than $100 million in federal and other funding for clients. Learn more at ; follow on Twitter.

About The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) leads economic development efforts for the state by advancing and maximizing opportunities in Wisconsin for businesses, communities and people to thrive in a globally competitive environment. Working with more than 600 regional and local partners, WEDC develops and delivers solutions representative of a highly responsive and coordinated economic development network. Learn more at ; follow on Twitter. 

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State matching grants to boost six high-tech small businesses

 MADISON – Six small high-tech businesses in Wisconsin will receive up to $75,000 each to commercialize their innovations, thanks to the SBIR Advance program’s latest round of funding. 

The state matching grant program provides assistance to companies in the process of completing a project in the . This is the ninth round of SBIR Advance funding since this collaboration by the and the began in 2014.

Since then, 56 awards have been given, equaling $4.15 million throughout the state. Those businesses reported hiring more than 173 employees and obtaining $16.5 million in additional capital since receiving the grants.

The recipients:

  • of Madison, in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is relentlessly developing a paper-based test to detect the specific bugs that cause diarrheal diseases;
  • of Fitchburg offers unique biomaterials for cell and tissue manufacturing. Applications include medical devices for drug discovery, cell therapy and regenerative medicine;
  • of Marshfield is a life science tools company founded in 2007 to create novel products for microscopy laboratories;
  • of Milwaukee provides advanced technology to reduce the size and cost of energy storage systems;
  • of Platteville is the creator of First Contact Polymer, a one part product specifically formulated to safely clean precision optical surfaces with minimal surface adhesion while leaving zero residue; and
  • of Madison develops next generation microarray technology and applications for basic research and drug discovery.

The U.S. government created SBIR/STTR programs to stimulate domestic high-tech innovation, providing $2.5 billion in federal research funding each year. Because those funds cannot be used for commercialization activities, the SBIR Advance program fills the gap. Funds can be used to pursue market research, customer validation, intellectual property work or other areas that speed commercialization.

SBIR Advance grant recipients receive CTC staff support available throughout the commercialization process, including Lean Startup training, business plan review and other consulting.

“We recognized that a small company is much more than just the technology and that they need to validate their key business assumptions.” said Dr. Todd Strother, Program Manager. “The SBIR Advance grant provides them with resources to do these activities so that the company can build and commercialize a product that customers actually want.” 

For more details on the SBIR Advance program, visit or contact Strother at .

“Companies selected for SBIR Advance receive benefits well beyond the financial award,” said Aaron Hagar, vice president of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at WEDC. “The expertise provided by CTC staff and connections to other resources work in concert with the financing to guide and accelerate these companies through the next stages of their development.”

SBIR Advance is part of a Start-Seed-Scale (S3) initiative WEDC is pursuing with the help of the UW System and other business leaders throughout the state to remove barriers to high-tech commercialization. Under the S3 umbrella, WEDC and its economic development partners are implementing financial and operational assistance programs designed specifically to address Wisconsin’s business startup and seed-funding challenges. Another S3 collaborative effort between WEDC and the UW System is the Ideadvance Seed Fund, also managed by UW-Extension’s CTC. Selected SBIR Advance participants undergo Ideadvance Lean Startup training that is modified to assist with their SBIR Phase II applications.

 

UPCOMING NATIONAL SBIR OPPORTUNITY – IN WISCONSIN!

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services will host the national 2017 Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (HHS SBIR/STTR) conference Nov. 7-9  in Milwaukee.

The conference helps small businesses in the life science sector learn how to tap into America’s Largest Seed Fund; HHS awards more than $920 million annually.

Go to to learn more and register.

  

About The Center for Technology Commercialization

The Center for Technology Commercialization is a unit in the University of Wisconsin-Extension’s Division for Business and Entrepreneurship. CTC provides one-on-one expert consulting to early-stage emerging technology businesses throughout Wisconsin. CTC has collaborated in acquiring more than $100 million in federal and other funding for clients. Learn more at ; follow on Twitter.

About The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) leads economic development efforts for the state by advancing and maximizing opportunities in Wisconsin for businesses, communities and people to thrive in a globally competitive environment. Working with more than 600 regional and local partners, WEDC develops and delivers solutions representative of a highly responsive and coordinated economic development network. Learn more at ; follow on Twitter.

 

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Medical Cyberworlds: Using virtual technology to teach human skills

Company: Medical Cyberworlds

City: Madison

Website:

Started: 2006

Founder and President: Dr. Fred Kron – a doctor, cancer survivor and screen writer for such TV shows as “Star Trek” and “The Smurfs”

About the company: MPathic-VR is an interactive training platform to improve the interpersonal skills and bedside manner of medical professionals using “virtual human” patients that respond to users’ words, facial expressions and body language.

The problem to solve: Medical errors caused by faulty clinician communication, responsible for more than 400,000 deaths and $1 trillion in expenses in the United States annually

How the company is tackling that problem: Standard training through staged interactions is not effective or consistent. Through the training software, computer-generated feedback and scores provide unbiased data on strengths, weaknesses and progress over time.
“I’ve been on both sides of the discussion, and I’ve experienced the distress that people’s insensitivity can cause,” Kron said. “There needed to be a better way of teaching people how to develop trust and rapport by improving their communication behaviors. How do you discern and validate other people’s emotions? How can you make your patients and peers feel understood? How do you craft a win-win in crucial discussions?  We’ve created a patented technology that empowers and enables healthcare providers to learn those skills, by practicing with virtual human characters that listen and respond like real people.”

How working with Center for Technology Commercialization connected with solutions/funding:

  • Acquired two federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants through the National Institutes for Health (NIH)
  • Received an SBIR Advance grant through the CTC and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
  • Selected to participate in the NIH’s highly selective Commercialization Acceleration Program, which taught lean startup methodology to discover what potential customers want and are willing to spend
  • Added serial entrepreneurs from a growing advisory network to the company’s board of directors through mentorship from CTC as well as UW-Madison Small Business Development Center and Merlin Mentors

Results so far:

What’s next:

  • Seeking Phase III sole source federal contracts for a potential growth route
  • Working on NIH grants to fund additional content and research to drive technology adoption in target markets

Wow factor: Kron said it’s critical that the virtual human characters are believable and capable of evoking feelings of empathy. To that end, Medical Cyberworlds became a signatory to the Screen Actors’ Guild so the company can contract with professional actors to capture high-quality performances that are then vetted by experts for authenticity.

Applications beyond the medical field? Kron sees applications for this kind of training across a variety of fields. “If we can help take down communication barriers in general, just imagine the possibilities. I had a gentleman come up to me after using MPathic-VR, and he said ‘I gotta tell you, that stuff that you’re teaching me, those aren’t just skills you can use in medicine, those are life skills. My wife and I were having an argument last night, and I tried out the skills I learned from MPathic, and they worked!’ If our product could help people be better able to talk together, understand and empathize, wouldn’t that be a better world? It may sound like a reach, but that’s my dream.”

SBIR Advance matching grant applications due in August

MADISON -- UW-Extension’s Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC) is offering a matching grant of up to $75,000 to provide additional assistance to companies in the process of completing a project in the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

This is the ninth round of SBIR Advance funding dedicated by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) since SBIR Advance began in 2014.

“These funds continue to help SBIR companies do critical business-related activities that accelerate their commercialization and ultimately benefit the Wisconsin economy,” said Dr. Todd Strother, CTC Senior Technology Consultant and SBIR Advance Program Manager.

Deadlines are quickly approaching:

To be companies must have an SBIR/STTR project in either Phase I or Phase II of funding. All companies must be located in Wisconsin to be considered for the grant. Funds can be used for business and market development, customer validation, intellectual property work or other areas needed to speed product commercialization.

Applicants should also note these important dates:

  • Sept. 1, 2017: Companies chosen for funding will be notified by this time.
  • Sept. 21, 2017: Phase I Match awardees must be prepared to start the . The course runs through Dec. 14 and is administered by the CTC. It teaches companies how to incorporate their technologies into a validated business model and defines the best possible target markets.

For more details on the SBIR Advance program, visit or contact Strother at .

SBIR Advance is part of a Start-Seed-Scale (S3) initiative WEDC is pursuing with the help of the UW System and other business leaders throughout the state to remove barriers to high-tech commercialization. Under the S3 umbrella, WEDC and its economic development partners are implementing financial and operational assistance programs designed specifically to address Wisconsin’s business startup and seed-funding challenges. One such initiative — also a collaborative effort between WEDC and the UW System — is the , also managed by UW-Extension’s CTC. Selected SBIR Advance participants undergo Ideadvance Lean Startup training that is modified to assist with their SBIR Phase II applications.

 

About The Center for Technology Commercialization

The Center for Technology Commercialization is a unit in the University of Wisconsin-Extension’s Division for Business and Entrepreneurship. CTC provides one-on-one expert consulting to early-stage emerging technology businesses throughout Wisconsin. CTC has collaborated in acquiring more than $100 million in federal and other funding for clients. Learn more at ; follow on Twitter.

About The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) leads economic development efforts for the state by advancing and maximizing opportunities in Wisconsin for businesses, communities and people to thrive in a globally competitive environment. Working with more than 600 regional and local partners, WEDC develops and delivers solutions representative of a highly responsive and coordinated economic development network. Learn more at ; follow on Twitter.

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