MADISON, Wis. – Seven Wisconsin small high-tech businesses each will receive a $75,000 matching grant to commercialize their innovations. They are the fifth round of recipients of the SBIR Advance Program, a collaboration funded by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and administered by the UW-Extension Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC).
Grant recipients include C-Motive Technologies, Madison; Cell Reprogramming & Therapeutics, LLC, Wauwatosa; ConsortiEX, Milwaukee; Flex Compute, Madison; Intelligent Composites, Milwaukee; Protein Foundry, Milwaukee; and Thalchemy, Madison. The diverse array of technologies these companies focus on includes biotech, power systems, supercomputing, new engine component materials, smart technology and pharmaceutical safety.
The $525,000 total in matching grants will provide additional assistance to these companies, which are already in the process of completing a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) projects. The U.S. government created SBIR/STTR programs to stimulate domestic high-tech innovation, providing approximately $2.5 billion in federal research funding each year. However, those federal funds are for technology development and cannot be used for commercialization activities. The SBIR Advance program fills this gap by providing funding to be used for customer development and validation. CTC staff supports SBIR Advance grant recipients through Lean Startup training, commercialization plan review, matching products with market needs, and other customized assistance.
“For many SBIR applicants the commercialization plan is the last thing they think about. In SBIR Advance we get them thinking about their plan right away,” stated CTC Client Services Director David Linz. “This not only provides data, strategy and insights to bolster their commercialization plans, it also helps them to focus on the research where it will produce the most commercial merit, or the fastest path to market.”
Solicitation for a sixth round of SBIR Advance funding will be open by March 28th with an ‘Intent to Apply’ deadline of April 28th, 2016 at noon. To be eligible, companies must have an SBIR/STTR project in either Phase I or Phase II of funding. A company becomes ineligible once they have completed Phase II of any SBIR/STTR project. 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 the company needs to speed commercialization of their product.
“This is a very competitive grant,” noted CTC Senior Technology Consultant Dr. Todd Strother, who manages the SBIR Advance program. “We find that the highest-scoring companies demonstrate a willingness to embrace Lean Startup practices for customer validation and show quantitatively how these funds can speed their path to commercialization.”
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.