MADISON – Seven 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 federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. This is the eighth round of SBIR Advance funding since this collaboration by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and the University of Wisconsin-Extension’s Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC) began in 2014.
Since then, more than $3.6 million has been awarded to 37 companies throughout the state. Those businesses reported hiring more than 150 employees and obtaining $11.5 million in additional capital since receiving the grants.
The recipients are:
- systeMECH of Madison, which is developing tools and processes for building flexible hybrid electronic and photonic devices;
- V-Glass of Pewaukee, which is developing low-cost, high-efficiency window glass;
- Xylome of Madison, which specializes in the metabolic engineering of nonconventional yeasts to produce renewable fuels and other higher-value products;
- Regenerative Medical Solutions of Madison, which supplies pancreatic cells for drug research and is developing a therapeutic treatment for diabetes;
- Glucan Biorenewables of Madison, which transforms woodchips and other biomass into renewable chemicals and advanced materials;
- Amebagone of Madison, which is pioneering development of safe, easy-to-use antimicrobials and disinfectants to destroy bacterial pathogens causing crop loss in agriculture and human infectious diseases; and
- C-Motive Technologies of Madison, which is developing next-generation electric motors to improve performance, increase energy efficiency and reduce costs.
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.
“The interest and support for SBIR Advance continue to be strong,” said Dr. Todd Strother, who manages the program. “The investment in these early-stage companies are starting to see returns as the funded companies are working on commercialization and sales. This particular round of applicants was competitive; our reviewers had the difficult task of selecting from many solid proposals.”
“We often see companies receiving SBIR grants that have made great progress on the technical side but have critical business development milestones they simply don’t have a way to fund,” said Aaron Hagar, vice president of Entrepreneurship and Innovation for WEDC. “Potential investors and customers want to see progress beyond what the federal grants can provide, and SBIR Advance helps to close that critical gap.”
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.